Tech & Science

Threads is a ‘hacker’s dream,’ experts say

Toronto –

We know when you shopped online, when you last worked out, and if you’ve been lurking on your ex’s profile.

Meta’s new social media platform, Threads, is devouring tons of sensitive data about its 100 million users, and the number keeps growing.

The idiosyncrasy and amount of information that text and multimedia platforms can access poses a risk to most users if it falls into the wrong hands or is used to target them, technical experts say. I agree.

“It’s a hacker’s dream,” said Claudette McGowan, a longtime bank executive who founded Protecsa, a Toronto-based platform that uses artificial intelligence to quickly identify and resolve employee cyber issues. talk.

“The more data that is put into a specific position[or]location, the more excited people are to access that data and be very creative about it.”

Threads falls under Meta’s extensive privacy policy, which also covers other social media platforms Facebook and Instagram. This policy collects information you provide when you sign up for an account, such as what you have clicked or liked, who you have made friends with online, the mobile phone or computer you used to access our Products. , details how Meta collects everything from tablet type to tablet type.

It also records what you are doing on your device, whether the app is in the foreground, the mouse is moving, messages you send and receive, and purchase details including credit card information.

Threads also has its own supplemental privacy policy, which states: “We may store content you create, the types of content you view or interact with and how you interact with it, metadata about your content, Threads We collect information about your activity on Threads, including metadata about The features you use and how you use them, the hashtags you use, the time, frequency and duration of your activity on the thread. ”

The privacy policy that Threads has embedded in Apple’s app store indicates that Threads collects data such as user identity, health and fitness, financial information, browsing history, location, and contact information, along with broad categories of “sensitive information.” and indicate that you may link to them.

“To me, this looks like a snatch bag or a driftnet approach,” said Brett Callaway, a professor of media economics at the University of Toronto.

This approach is not uncommon for social media services and other apps. Brokering access to as much data as possible has become the “standard repertoire” for such companies, he said.

For example, the music-centric social media app TikTok collects usernames, passwords, dates of birth, email addresses, phone numbers, information disclosed in user profiles, photos, and videos. It also captures the settings you have set, content you have uploaded, comments, his websites you have visited, apps you have downloaded, and what you have purchased.

Screen resolution, keystroke patterns, battery level, audio settings, and “approximate location, including location information based on SIM card and IP address” are also collected by TikTok.

Callaway often hears from students wondering why they should care about social media companies accessing their data. That’s because social media companies aren’t well-known and don’t use such apps for their controversial activities.

“Just because you’re safe today doesn’t mean you’ll be safe tomorrow,” Callaway insists.

“In the United States, we certainly see certain socially marginalized people coming under attack, at least rhetorically, and sometimes legally, and you are one of those socially marginalized people. You may find out.”

Callaway said these companies are “not in a position to negotiate” with users regardless of what they do on social media.

“You just take what the platform has to offer.”

Asked about the app’s privacy concerns, Mehta told The Canadian Press, referring to a threaded post by Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman, whose privacy measures are “in the sense that the app receives all information, It’s similar to other social apps, including Instagram,” he said. Share within your app, including categories of data listed in the App Store. ”

“People can choose to share different types of data,” he wrote.

McGowan advises not only to skim the privacy policies you agree to before signing up for Threads or other services, but to be more thorough with how your data will be used. It is recommended that you read it carefully.

“People don’t understand the value of data,” McGowan said.

“They become products. Things they never even imagined are being monetized, and they think they are making decisions and forming opinions, but actually their It is formed and determined for.”

She also advises people to consider corporate history.

“Do you have a track record of sensitive sensitive information?” she asked.

“Do they have a track record of being transparent, open and honest with their user community?”

In the case of Threads, parent company Meta was embroiled in privacy issues in 2018 when consulting firm Cambridge Analytica paid Facebook app developers access to the personal information of nearly 87 million users. Notorious for.

This personal information was used to target US voters during the country’s presidential election, which ended with Donald Trump in power.

Threads has yet to launch in the European Union, which has strict data privacy regulations.

“We wanted to offer Threads in the EU as well as other markets, but the app now meets the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation,” Sherman said of Threads.

“However, it may take more time to build this product against the backdrop of other regulatory requirements that have not yet been clarified. We prioritized serving as many people as possible.”

In light of these trends, if you’re having second thoughts about the account you signed up for, most services offer tools to adjust your settings and restrict access to some personal information.

“And you always have the option to disconnect,” McGowan added.

However, to dump Threads profile embedded in Instagram, you need to delete your Instagram account as well.

This report by the Canadian Press Agency was first published on July 16, 2023.

Meta funds a limited number of fellowships to support emerging journalists for the Canadian Press.

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