It knows when you shopped online, when you last worked out, and whether you’re sneaking a peek at your ex’s profile: Meta’s new social network, Threads, is gobbling up massive amounts of sensitive data on its 100 million users.
The specificity and amount of information the new platform can access poses a risk to most users if it falls into the wrong hands, digital experts agree.
“It’s every hacker’s dream,” says Claudette McGowan, an experienced banking executive who founded Protexxa, a Toronto-based platform that uses artificial intelligence to quickly identify and resolve cybersecurity issues for employees in a company. business.
“The more data that is collected in one place, the more some malicious people will be enthusiastic about accessing it and will use their imaginations to decide what to do with it. »
This policy details how Meta maintains everything from information provided at account creation to what a user clicks on. Its apps also have access to users’ friendship links, as well as the type of phone, computer or tablet a person is using to access its products.
The new standard
This approach is not unusual for social networks or other applications. It has even become “standard” for these companies to grant themselves access to as much data as possible, according to University of Toronto media economics professor Brett Caraway.
TikTok, for example, collects usernames, passwords, birthdates, email addresses, phone numbers, photographs and videos of its users. Screen resolution, keystrokes, battery levels, audio settings, and “your approximate location” are also collected by TikTok.
Caraway often hears students wondering why they should care about social media companies accessing their data if they’re not using those apps for malicious activity. “Just because you’re safe today doesn’t mean you’ll be safe tomorrow,” he replies. In the United States, we already see some marginalized populations being attacked, at least rhetorically and sometimes legally, with data. Anyone can find themselves in one of these marginalized populations. »
Asked about the app’s privacy concerns, Meta referred The Canadian Press to messages on Threads from its privacy officer, Rob Sherman, who argued that the privacy measures “are similar to the rest of our social apps, including including Instagram, in that our apps receive whatever information you share in the app”.
“People just don’t understand the value of data,” she says. The users become the product. Things they can’t even imagine are paid for. She also advises people to consider a company’s history. “Does she have a habit of handling sensitive information with care?” Does it show transparency, openness and honesty with its users? »
In the case of Threads, its parent company Meta was sadly trapped in 2018, when it was revealed that consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had paid a Facebook app developer to access the personal information of around 87 million people. of users. The personal information was later used to target American voters in the country’s presidential election that brought Donald Trump to power.
In light of all this, users should be aware that most services offer tools that can help them adjust their settings to limit access to certain personal information. “And you always have the option of deleting your account,” M added.me McGowan.
However, to delete a Threads account, there is one more sacrifice to be made: you will have to delete your Instagram account.