Privacy Lost: the Societal and Individual Consequences of Poor Data Security
Co-Founder, Chief Commercial Officer
Concerns about privacy in social media have risen at a dramatic rate in the recent years. Rightfully so. Data breach incidents have alarmed many everyday social media users to rethink their relationship with companies that run these platforms. For example, Chinese tech giant Tencent owns the popular messaging app, Wechat, which invasively monitored users’ accounts to censor and deactivate accounts that shared content in support of the Hong Kong government, even USA-based accounts.
With an estimated 1 billion active monthly users, more than one eighth of the world’s population uses this platform – a platform that selectively hand-picks convenient truths to exist and extinguishes other content that does not benefit its parent company, Tencent. In attempting to squelch communications related to the Hong Kong independence movement, Wechat was dangerously attempting to steer the course of history. This is just one of many examples where the public comes to question their trust in large social media companies. A study conducted by Pew Research Center states that over 80 percent of social media users report being concerned about businesses and advertisers accessing and using their social media posts. Let’s pause for a moment and consider how staggering of a statistic 80 percent is, given that social media doesn’t end with Facebook – Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok; the list goes on.
That is a lot of concerned people. But what are they specifically worried about? And is their fear justified? A significant element in play here is the ubiquitous presence of social media in people’s lives. Forty-five percent of the world ‘s population is using social media. This means an astounding 3.48 billion people actively connect to a social media platform. These connections can render users vulnerable in a variety of ways given the breadth and depth of information shared, including their personal interests, political and religious beliefs, physical and mental health, and the identity of their friends and family.
Pair this all-encompassing dataset with the simply titanic scale of all these platforms, and it becomes clear that when personal information falls into the wrong hands, the effects can be devastating, leaving no privacy in social media. Pilfered information, stolen identities, and misattributed content can irreparably damage reputations and relationships not only online, but can also have real world ramifications, too.
The scary thing is that stolen data isn’t a rarity – criminals are experts at tricking social media users into handing over confidential information, stealing personal data, and accessing private accounts. In TikTok’s case, the app itself was illegally collecting personal data on minors / children under the age of 13 (according to USA law). Also, a critical vulnerability was discovered within TikTok’s core functionality, which was that it exposed data copied to a user’s clipboard which could lay bare extremely sensitive information such as copied passwords. Whether or not this was related to the recent news breaking that 235 million TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook accounts have been compromised remains to be seen but regardless of the true reason, all signs point to an acute need for a more secure communications platform.
While we certainly hope that we’ve learned some lessons from all of these unfortunate incidents, we must also stay vigilant – and keep an eye out for ways we can deal with broader security concerns beyond the immediate horizon. We are living in a digital world where security and privacy in social media matters more than ever. These concepts are of the utmost importance because it should be within an individual’s rights to do what they please with their private information – and in order to better secure ourselves against spies, hackers, or any other malicious actors, we must use encryption methodologies in social media apps.
End-to-End Encryption (E2EE) is a type of protected communication where messages are encrypted all the way from the sending user to the receiving user, so that third parties have no means of accessing the data in a usable format. The message or media is fully encrypted both in transit and when being processed, and the recipient is the only one who can decrypt the message with unique cryptographic keys. E2EE is important as its privacy and security against hackers preserves personal information. And if the communication data is compromised, the data is kept encrypted and no one has the decryption keys but the users. A good encryption strategy is especially important in today’s technological environment because of the amount of data breaches that occur almost daily.
Most of the social media applications we use today can still be exploited by cyber criminals and our data’s security is left in our own hands. As consumers, we must be well aware of all the alternative apps that we can use to drastically improve our privacy from unwanted individuals.
With this in mind, our team here at Lok set out to solve this problem. We built this social media platform to provide a platform that is totally secured with E2EE, and by default we do not share any of your data with third parties for any reason. We believe so strongly in providing users’ privacy that we promise the only people who can see your messages, media, and data are the individuals you selectively hand-pick to be recipients – not our administrative team at Lok, not an unauthorized third party, nor anyone else.
Your data is your data – safeguard it and the ones you care about most with Lok.