Online privacy is being compromised every day and many are willingly handing over their information. The problem with this is it getting into the hands of those with nefarious agendas. Who are they? I don’t know and neither do you! That’s the point.
The world of social media is a case in point. This image is from Parler, a fairly recent entry. It is marketed as “Twitter for conservatives” and I was merely curious about what kind of content is on it.
One of things they offer is a badge authenticating that the user is a real person, not a fake account. This is the verification form. Can you imagine freely giving them this information?! Yet there are people there who are verified.
Here is what I wrote to them:
As much as I would enjoy having your little badge indicating I am a real person, there is no chance in hell I am going to give you my driver’s license!! Never give away privacy!
Then there’s Facebook. Most of us already know about the privacy issues there so I won’t get into all that. Suffice it to say that they have not changed their business model and continue to gather data for sale. So whatever you put there is at your own risk. Yet again, I see all kinds of personal information showing on profiles.
Another area of increasing concern are smartphones. These are monitored constantly by who knows who. Security agencies, marketing companies, etc.
Most of us hear stories about having a discussion about an item they’re interested in buying while in the proximity of a cell phone and then seeing an ad for that item the next time they’re online. Creepy is a mild word for this.
Then there are text messages. These are monitored as well and in this case, actual conversations can be followed. Fortunately, you can protect your privacy. There are several messaging apps out there with a variety of privacy features. Many people choose WhatsApp as it claims end to end encryption. This is good, except that it’s owned by Facebook! ’nuff said!
There are three other messaging apps I’ve looked at for privacy. They are 1. Telegram 2. Signal 3. Threema. I tried Telegram and while the features are very good and its privacy setting like encryption and auto message delete, it lacks transparency in its backend code. This means if its hacked, only a few with access to the code can fix it.
Threema is a Swiss app and costs $4 to buy. This is good since the manufacturer is being directly paid for the app, which avoids them needing to sell data to fund the project. It also has excellent encryption, auto delete messaging etc.
Of these, I use Signal. It has all the privacy features I wanted, plus is an open-source back end code. This means a lot of users are monitoring it for vulnerabilities, which are fixed very quickly. It is free and can be used as your default messaging app. This means you can use it with anyone, although the privacy features only work with someone who also is using it.
Interestingly, I’ve sent invitations to several friends to join me on Signal and only a few have downloaded it. This lack of concern for their personal privacy is a boon to marketers, governments, and any other potentially bad actor out there. It’s unfortunate.
Here are links to the 3 apps, should anyone want to investigate them further. Better yet, if you value your privacy, start using one of them. (I recommend Signal)
Telegram – https://telegram.org/
Threema – https://threema.ch/en
Signal – https://signal.org/en/