Integration: it seems to be all the rage. As technology becomes more sophisticated, we sprint to incorporate these new innovations into our everyday lives. But as we celebrate Safer Internet Day, one can’t help but wonder, is all integration good when it comes to information shared online? Major privacy concerns have been raised surrounding Facebook’s recent plans to merge Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram. This integration will allow cross-messaging between the three platforms (which will all still operate as standalone apps), so users could talk to their Messenger-only friends without leaving WhatsApp.
While Facebook’s plans to merge the messaging platforms are not yet finalized, the company is in the process of rebuilding the underlying infrastructure so that users who might utilize only one of the apps will be able to communicate with others within the company’s ecosystem. Facebook plans to include end-to-end encryption for the apps, ensuring that only the participants of a conversation can view the messages being sent. By allowing each app to speak to one another across platforms, Facebook hopes users become more engaged and use this as their primary messaging service.
But Facebook’s messaging changes have greater implications for online safety as consumers become more protective of their data. For example, WhatsApp only requires a phone number to sign up for the app while Facebook asks users to verify their identities. Will this force more data to be shared with WhatsApp, or will its encryption become less secure? While nothing has been finalized, it’s important for users to think about how the information they share online could be affected by this merge.
Although the internet has paved the way for advancements in social media and technology in general, users need to make sure they’re aware of the potential risks involved. And while this merge hasn’t happened yet, Safer Internet Day helps remind us to make good choices when it comes to browsing online. Following these tips can help keep you and your data safe and secure:
- Get selective about what you share. Although social media is a great way to keep your friends and family in the loop on your daily life, be conservative about the information you put on the internet. Additionally, be cautious of what you send through messaging platforms, especially when it comes to your personally identifiable information.
- Update your privacy settings. To make sure that you’re sharing your status with just your intended audience, check your privacy settings. Choose which apps you wish to share your location with and turn your profiles to private if you don’t want all users to have access to your information.
- Keep your apps up-to-date. Keeping your social media apps updated can prevent exposure to threats brought on by software bugs. Turn on automatic updates so you always have the latest security patches, and make sure that your security software is set to run regular scans.
- Click with caution. Cybercriminals can leverage social media messaging to spread phishing links. Don’t interact with users or messages that seem suspicious and keep your guard up by blocking unfamiliar users who try to send you sketchy content.
Stay secure while you browse online. Security solutions like McAfee WebAdvisor can help block malware and phishing sites if you accidentally click on a malicious link. This can help protect you from potential threats when you access your social channels from a desktop or laptop
(Writer Gary Davis is Chief Consumer Security Evangelist, McAfee. Views expressed are personal opinion.)