Study Shows Which Messengers Leak Your Data, Drain Your Battery, And More

from ars technica

Link previews are a ubiquitous feature found in just about every chat and messaging app, and with good reason. They make online conversations easier by providing images and text associated with the file that’s being linked.

Unfortunately, they can also leak our sensitive data, consume our limited bandwidth, drain our batteries, and, in one case, expose links in chats that are supposed to be end-to-end encrypted. Among the worst offenders, according to research published on Monday, were messengers from Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Line. More about that shortly. First a brief discussion of previews.

More here.

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46 Comments

  1. Link previews are an incredibly subtle feature that surround us in most online communication. Showing a preview of the webpage involves not only opening the webpage but interpreting it too, personally I would want the ability to turn that off. A link preview is not only unnecessary in most situations but can lead to misuse. Any link that I send would not need a link preview, as I already know what I’m sending. The other person will decide to click on the link with or without a preview. Transmitting sensitive data on apps that have link previews becomes extremely challenging, especially when it seems that there are no true secure options. Data privacy and security are at risk. The only niche situations in which a link preview may be necessary would not change dramatically with the abscence of a link preview. Still, they are a feature that some people may want. I would like to see the option to opt out of link previews more often. It does seem somewhat ironic that TikTok, a company that has been targeted by the Trump Administration under privacy concerns, is one of the only apps that does allow you to turn off link previews, therefore creating more security in their messages. Much unlike popular American apps such as Instagram and Facebook.

  2. As an internet user who does their best to avoid being open to attacks more than most, I was shocked to learn that something as small as link previews can make users susceptible to attacks. I did not realize that the previews meant that my phone was opening the links before I decided whether or not I wanted to visit that site and now will be looking for any way to disable them. To make this even worse to prevent this from happening on a laptop is still very difficult, but on a phone it is nearly impossible without specialized software.
    This also negatively affects the non-security crazy phone users. On phones with limited storage downloading files without users even realizing can lead to storage running out with users having practically nothing on their device. Users with limited data plans are even worse off with the files downloaded by previews having no size limiter on certain apps, meaning that the files could be gigabytes in size and use all of the data plan. This would result in the user never having any data or being forced to pay overages they had not even intentionally used.

  3. Sometimes I ask myself how my life would be without having a smartphone that helps me out on many tasks during the day. Smartphones like iPhones help us out on creating the world smaller, since we can interact with millions of people even if they are thousands of miles away. However, those applications that we download in order to achieve satisfaction use our private information for their own usage. Those applications states that they use our information to test their own services, but many applications as Instagram and Facebook download our information for their own business such advertising and promoting products that can be purchased by the application users. Two years ago, Zuckerberg was suited for selling illegally the users’ information to companies that will use information for their advertisement purposes. Those applications can endanger our privacy and they also threaten our smartphones. As the author shows in the reports, those applications ruin smartphones since they slowdown the batteries and they leak our data. Instagram and Facebook have been found out that they are getting unlimited copies of private information which endangers our lives. Both apps get servers to download large amount of our data, so those apps access our data and they download it. It shows that those two applications have access to our private information for the rest of our lives. Those two social media apps are not just the only using our information, since Discord, Google Hangouts, Line, Linkedin, Slack, Twitter and Zoom use our information too. Instead, Reddit and Viber are draining the batteries of our smartphones. One of the worst malicious behavior is leaking links that are going to expose our information such as credit cards numbers to hackers that will use them in a bad way. This report should be analyzed by the whole population, because many users think that using application is completely safe. However, this is our fault since we agree to those companies’ terms and conditions, so we agree to give them our information. The article has finally warned me to cancel important information from my smartphone. In future, I will read carefully “Terms and Conditions” in order to understand what personal information I am providing to those companies.

  4. My iPhone is an essential part of my life and I use it every single day. It is a part of my day-to-day routine, whether I like it or not. My whole life is squeezed together on my smartphone. The first thing I do in the morning is go on my phone and check my social media apps. I don’t even have to think about going on my phone anymore, it just happens. There are many apps that I use each day that have the ability to compromise my privacy and security, specifically social media apps. I know this is a possibility when I use these apps, and I continue to do it regardless of the risk. I have become so engrossed with the capabilities of smartphones and social media apps that I don’t even realize the damage it is causing. This is also how the rest of society views smartphones and social media apps. In recent years, I have not met a single person that does not have a smartphone or a form of social media. In my opinion, smartphones and social media have completely taken over society. Social media has become the main communication tool for my generation. I message people all the time on my social media apps. Instagram is the app I use the most and this article states that it is one of the worst offenders for leaking my data and draining my battery. The sad reality is that I won’t stop using the app even though it is compromising my privacy and security. Furthermore, app creators know that there are people like me who are going to continue to use social media apps even though their privacy and security could become compromised. Our society has become so dependent on social media that I don’t think we could live without it. I had no idea that link previews could be one of the reasons our privacy and security could become compromised. Link previews are meant to make online conversations easier and I believe they do. I never realized that they could be one of the main causes of compromised privacy and security on social media apps. This scares me because link previews are a simple tool used in online conversations and I had no idea that they can lead to cyber-attacks. People on social media apps are using link previews all the time, which means all these people are in danger of having their privacy and security compromised. Like me, I don’t think these people have any idea that link previews can compromise their privacy and security. Furthermore, if link previews lead to compromised privacy and security, then there has to be a wide range of other social media tools that do the same. There are so many privacy and security issues from social media apps that people have no idea about. I think that these apps should have to tell their users about these privacy and security issues. These apps have a duty to inform the public that there is a risk from using them.
    Teresa Richardson
    richardsote@rider.edu

  5. When reading this article, I was quite surprised when it said that link previews were prone to data leakage, consume data bandwidth and have the potential to drain batteries. As someone who uses their phone often everyday, I would have never thought about this until I read this article because link previews have been so commonly used across the internet because of how convenient it is. I do use link previews everyday and send them to my friends but If someone that I don’t know sent me a link preview, I will take more caution because of all the bad things that could potentially happen. Even if my friend sent me a link preview, I would still have to take caution when opening it because they could have potentially been hacked by someone else so they would spread the link to all of the users friends in which they would become affected also. Social media sites such as Facebook can be a dangerous site to click on link previews because they allow any user to message whoever they want and bait them into clicking something that can be completely different than what the title says. I do feel like more sites should give the option to users to not receive any link previews because this can prevent a lot of the issues revolving around data leakage since people would not be able to send random links to everyone. Opting out of links would also prevent mass messaging and all the spam links that users receive daily. Data leakage can result in very bad outcomes because people have their private information stored in their phones and devices such as bank information, contracts, emails, etc. and leaking that kind of information is the worst case scenario that can happen to someone.

  6. This article is very surprising for many reasons. First, I did not know that link previews could cause so much potential harm to users. Consuming bandwidth and decreasing battery life are two major effects of these links, but the one that stands out to me most is that it makes users prone to data leakages. I believe that in today’s world, big data is causing many problems for people who have had their information collected and used, and their privacy has been violated. Now knowing that something as simple as a link preview could make on susceptible to this is even more alarming. While the article does explain that it is good to see how many apps are handling data collection the right way, there are still many apps that continue to collect data. Perhaps two of the most widely used apps, Facebook Messenger and Instagram both collect unlimited amounts of data from users, unlike other apps who are limited to 30-50MB like LinkedIn. Zoom only collects up to 30MB of data from a user, but as we have moved to a virtual learning experience, and I am personally on Zoom almost everyday, it is scary to know that so much of my information could be out on the market for someone to use. I believe that the EU was on the right track with the GDPR, but more countries, especially the US, need to get on board and protect their citizens privacy. A start would be to limit how much data apps can collect based on different outlets, like the link previews.

  7. It today’s society, almost everyone of every age has a smart phone. People use it for work and communication of course, but a lot use it for social media as well. In fact, people have become addicted to social media apps including Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook. Hours of their days are spent scrolling on these websites. But are the things we looking at and searching for really secure? According to the article, messages and data were hacked from Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Line. Although I have never heard of Line up until today, I am an active user of Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. As a user, I want to know that everything I do on those apps is private and secure. It is not like I am doing anything bad on these apps, but it would be nice to know I have my privacy. I am sure many others have the same opinion as me. Recently, my Twitter account was hacked, and I had to go through this long process. Luckily, I realized quickly when I received a log in alert from a different state. I changed my password and the user was kicked off my account. However, in the couple of minutes they were logged into my account, they posted a bunch of tweets that did not originate from me. Hackers are becoming increasingly good at what they do every day. These app developers have to be better and have security measures in place. Privacy is a big thing now and it needs to be taken care of. Besides security, these apps also use up a lot of our battery on our phones. I recently upgraded my phone from an iPhone 11 to an iPhone 12. Even though the phone is newer, the battery is actually smaller. I am actually seeing my battery drain faster than what it used to be like. In fact, researchers have found the iPhone 12 battery is 20% smaller than the 11. I do believe social media apps are the cause of the battery drainage. I spend a lot of time on Facebook and Instagram among other apps. Between school and work, I can not afford for my phone to die in the middle of the day after a full night of charging. Developers should figure out a way for users to use their services without the drainage of so much battery.

  8. Users need to be careful what they intentionally send to other people on media sharing apps. If you send someone personal information like “a tax return” the app can store that forever. This is a scary thought because sometimes we have conversations with friends on apps and without thinking, we will send information or photos that are relevant to the conversation. What people do not realize is that whatever is sent inside the app, the app stores and now has access to the information. We may feel like we are just one in several million users, but our information is still being stored and you never know what will happen with it. The article references Facebook messenger as one of the worst offenders along with Instagram. Personally, I know on some phones there is an option to use messenger as your main messaging app even outside of Facebook. This app is very easy to use and shows the users face in a little bubble on the side of your screen so you do not forget to respond to them. The ease of the app sometimes makes me favor this app rather than my normal text messaging app for sending messages. However, after reading this article, it has made me realize that it would just be simpler to use regular messaging apps to make sure my data is not being collected and stored for the company’s personal use.

    Some messaging apps are taking action to protect the information sent in the messaging portion of their app. These apps allow the option of choosing if you want a link preview or not. This is the best option for people who want their privacy protected as much as possible. However, if people are worried about their information being collected in social media and other apps, the best way around this would be to use an alternative app altogether. According to the chart in the article, iMessage, the app used for messaging on an iphone, does not collect any “unauthorized copies of private information,” download large amounts of data, drain battery, leak encrypted links, or run potential malware on phones. This app also has end-to-end encryption, so only the users involved have access to the information shared. This is the messaging app that all iphone users automatically have on their phones, and is the safest app for sharing information. People should take whatever information they planned on sharing on an alternative app, and send it through their phones personal text messaging app since that has the lowest risk of violating user privacy. It will take a second longer to transfer the link from one app to another, but then there is no cause for concern about what will happen with their personal data. There is currently no federal data protection policy, but some states have their own policy. The most notable being The California Consumer Privacy Act where consumers have more control and protection over the data businesses collect on users. Depending on where you live, your state may have you protected in some ways, but until a Federal law is passed to protect user data, users need to be careful about what they share on apps.

    • Hi Sarah, I enjoyed reading your post. I think that the first point you made is a great way of getting readers to understand the gravity of the issue here. Sharing your tax return with one person may seem harmless, but if it isn’t private between the two of parties your information can be at risk.

  9. Smartphones and technology have become the norm in our day and age. Society can not live without technology anymore. Unfortunately this comes at a cost for an individual’s personal identity. Link previews have always seemed a little sketchy to me. I have seen people getting their social media accounts hacked due to opening a direct message link. This is such an invasion of privacy, and ethically wrong. Having these preview links does not let smartphone users to have any control over whether or not they can open the link. The phone automatically opens the links without the user knowing. When talking to friends we send each other posts, links, etc. where a link preview would not be necessary. I have not been very cautious about opening links when it comes to my close friends, however whenever I receive a random link or something suspicious I approach the situation very carefully. Recently the Trump Administration was trying to ban Tik Tok from the US as it was collecting private data from every user. Tik Tok seemed to notice and added an option to turn off all link previews. Regardless of the situation society is fully reliant on technology. Social media is currently one of the most used sources for information amongst the younger generation. Many young people do not understand the seriousness of this issue, and probably will not do anything about it. Everyone always thinks “it will not happen to me” until it is too late. I think this issue is well known about scammers and hackers, but people do not really think it can affect them personally. Instagram as well as Facebook are known for downloading private data of users, and were faced with a heavy lawsuit. In companies Terms and Conditions they should make it very clear that link previews are present and if so an option to manually turn them off permanently. After reading this article it has made me more aware of the dangers of social media and technology. This article has opened my eyes in terms of what I have in my phone, and what is being downloaded by different apps.

  10. The internet is now one of the most vital parts of living in modern society. Now, with the pandemic, we are seeing the internet being used even more. Four of my five classes this semester are solely online classes, and the other is in person, but our resources (excel) are online. I feel like if the internet was to crash, people would not know how to survive. Of course, the internet allows for a new sense of conveniences in our everyday lives, but also allows for a distraction from the obligations people have. I personally, set time limits on my “fun” apps on my phone to ensure I complete my daily obligations, even though sometimes they still do not get done.
    When we do think about the internet and how much of our personal lives in our phones and are online, we begin to see the downsides. The use of our personal information on apps, such as Instagram and Facebook messenger, in our “private” messages are seemingly not so private. I did not realize how the smallest link preview could allow for personal information to be leaked into these apps. It makes a person really begin to think about what information they are putting into their phones and on certain apps.

  11. Sharing news articles, websites, and data with others comes with its fair share of risks. I am familiar with the features that allow users to preview websites when you are the link. I never really thought much of it until I read this article. Now that I think of it, I realize that it probably does require a lot of bandwidth and data to make this feature possible. I was also not aware the malware risk of previewing links before you open them. From the chart shown in the article, Facebook is the biggest offdner when it comes to unauthorized copies of private information. Instagram similarly has an immense amount of private information being collected. This makes sense considering they are owned by Facebook.

    It is a good thing to see that companies are doing something to fix this. Signal, Threema, TikTok, and WeChat all give the users the option of receiving no link preview. Although the feature is helpful, I can do without it if it means my data remains private. This begs the question as to if your personal messages are really safe. TExt messages, Facebook chats, and Instagram conversations are supposed to be private. However, if there is data being leaked from your phone to show you a preview of the website, it can’t really be safe.

  12. As I read this article I found myself quite shocked. As much as I hate to admit it, I use my phone quite a bit throughout the day. I generally start my morning scrolling though my Twitter and Instagram DM’s of every type of video you could think of from my friends. Then, I scroll though my own feed and send content back to them. This back and forth continues throughout the day and sometimes will even include links to AirBnB locations or to a jacket someone thought was cute. The point is, this goes on and nobody thinks twice about what it actually happening below the surface. Though I’m not super tech savvy, I do my best to avoid the obvious text, email, and random account scams. However, I was unaware that if a scam account were to DM me a link preview, I would have no way to stop my phone from downloading it. Social media apps are so prevalent in todays society, it’s scary to know that two of the biggest (Facebook and Instagram) leave users sort of exposed. As a user of Instagram, this article made me wonder if any link previews I have received in the past have left me compromised. I find it unfortunate that these companies allow their users to proceed unaware of the possible risks they are susceptible to, and that they even allow them to be at risk in the first place. It seems to me that apps that have been around as long as Instagram and especially Facebook should have addressed this issue by now. According to the chart in the article, TikTok’s messaging system is more secure. TikTok. Additionally, even though Twitter doesn’t totally prevent unauthorized copies of private information, they at least have it limited to 25 MB.

  13. Snapchat, Facebook messenger, and Instagram, are examples of social media messengers that leak data. Especially for snapchat, when I first downloaded it, I was told that messages that are sent and read, disappear, unless it is saved by either parties. At first, I thought this was a genius idea and really believed Snapchat was devious. However, later on, my eighth grade history teacher told my class Snapchat is not secure, as it leaks messages and personal data. When I heard this, I realized how scary social media really is. I realized the fact that I give my personal information to these databases, just to use the app or messenger, is ridiculous. If I know that they are giving away information and have access to it, why would I sign up? Well, that’s easy; it is because I want to have these social media apps just like how the rest of the world has it. After researching about contracts for the TID, I realized that we are fully liable for the company or databases to have our information, in order to use the app. Not only are these databases taking and having access to our information, but they also drain our batteries. Every iPhone has an app usage chart, that shows how much battery that each app takes. My top three apps being used are: Instagram, Youtube, and Snapchat. Out of the two, which allow messaging, Instagram used 30% of my battery and Snapchat used 18%. Personally, I believe social media is really dangerous because of them having personal access to our information. It is crazy to me that people are so careless and are not worried about having a leak of their private information. China has recently been under fire with TikTok being banned, for exactly this reason. TikTok has a data center, located in China, that has private information about every user. However, I also know that people care more about having an app and talking to their friends, then giving away six personal information. I believe people should be more aware and should really understand that giving private information could be very dangerous.

  14. It is well known to most people, at this point in time, that our information is being leaked whenever we use the Internet. For a while, the Internet was fresh and people were blissfully ignorant to its effects or any consequences that come as a result of using it. “Post something on the Internet, and it will stay there forever,” I remember hearing from teachers and other authority figures growing up. However, what they failed to mention is that even the private conversations we have, or at least think we are having, are also stored somewhere. Even those conversations may be leaked to potential predators looking to steal our identities, rob us blind of our cash, and do the most amount of damage to us as possible. Not everyone knows that, but the word is fortunately spreading enough so that people have a general idea of what-or what not- to put online.

    Just as food in life, not all things are created equal, even when they are seemingly good for you. At least one point or another, we have all been victims to believing in some sham product pretending to be great for you. Meanwhile, it probably does more damage to your body than the original culprit. Well, social networking services are the exact same way. Each company has their own spin on how to advertise to us the idea of safety. We all love security, feeling like our deepest, darkest conversations are not put in the spotlight for the rest of the world to see. Not true. EVERYTHING we do online can be traced, given enough time and support. Nothing will ever be 100% clear of its tracks, no matter how hard we try. However, the best we can do for now is to try and conceal as much as we can.

    This starts with using social media platforms that value the privacy of its consumers. Facebook Messenger and Instagram, unfortunately, are two examples of companies which do not. Does it come to anyone’s surprise, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg being called to a Senate hearing? They were discussing the alleged behavior of its app in swaying elections, stealing information, publicizing private subject material of its consumers, etc. Why would we believe it would stop its ways? Anyway, it did not. However, if you are one of the few who care enough about what you say and do being kept private, then use iMessage. Among the many, many abusers of stealing our information and allowing us to be prone and vulnerable to malware, Apple is not one of them. They genuinely do a fair job at keeping us in shape for a better future. I am not claiming they are perfect because they are not (e.g. hyper competitive tactics to destroy smaller industries in similar fields), but they at least secure our information. I use Apple products frequently and do not regret this decision. It should also be said that simply using an iPhone or iPad is not safe enough, even browsers are not safe. Every step of the day should ensure a better tomorrow

  15. In todays world, it is nearly impossible to live without the use of the internet. With the rapid progresses in technology, cell phones have become almost an attachment of our bodies. With the internet consuming almost every facet of life, much information is out there. There is not a lot of security when using the internet and that is a frightening thought. I would say I use my phone more than the average person, my daily screen time is currently 8 hours and 40 minutes a day. I am generally using social media and online shopping which essentially means most of my information if not all of my important data is available online. What this article made me aware of was just how feeble the security is online. Clicking one link can allow other users to have access to my information which I must say is unsettling. With certain apps taking the spotlight for this issue such as Tik Tok which have been discussed on the presidential level. Tik Tok unlike its American counterparts such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat has data stored abroad in China which poses incredible security threats. Unfortunately this is the reality we live in when opting into the internet, I only hope people become more aware of their lack of privacy online.

  16. The biggest question I have after reading this article is where are the lawsuits involved with these invasions of privacy? I’ve seen interviews in congress of Mark Zuckerberg being flagged for these sorts of invasions of privacy before and they touched on some of the aspects of the power of these social media apps. But, nothing to this caliber has been shown to me before. It is a shame that instagram and facebook are the largest offenders due to the amount of business that happens over those platforms. If instagram messenger allows for data to be mined out of the links that you send, then any important links or sharing I’ve done in the past is up for grabs. Despite the announcements by instagram that there is nothing to fear, I feel that they are skirting the line of truth in some way. Unless instagram can offer up a reason for why they have no cap on the data they collect (the 2.6GB’s mentioned in the article being a strong example) then I see this as a massive invasion of privacy.

    More and more today, the modern U.S. citizen is increasingly informed on what is acceptable to them when interfacing with these massive tech companies. There is no doubt that current times are the wild west of the internet even despite decades of its availability. Giants in the industry are being scolded by Congress for all manner of unethical business practices, such as monopolization. Personally, I will watch what links I send on social media from now on. It is informative to hear exactly how these online systems can reach into your data without your full awareness, because the notion of social media “hacking you” was always a vague term. It is important that all of us stay up to date on how to protect ourselves and that as we move into the future we consider the power this entire new medium of communication has been given.

  17. Even though I did not know some messaging apps collected data on users this way, I am not all that surprised. Following our unit on contract law, I did a lot of research into the types of contracts we enter in our daily lives. Due to the lack of regulation governing the huge tech industry, this has led to a lot of grey area in the subject. Big companies have a lot of power, and part of the reason for lack of regulation is that these big tech companies are able to fund politicians, possible swaying their judgement. I feel like this should not be allowed, and individuals should be the only ones allowed to donate. This allows companies to operate with any checks or balances. Facebook has always been the biggest example of a tech giant like this. Facebook has been the face of a lot of controversy concerning data mining and how much data they collect on users. Many people in America use Facebook or some company owned by Facebook (Instagram, Whatsapp), and those people have so much data collected on them. Some day that they may know more about you then you do yourself, which is scary. Now with sometime that seems so trivial like linking something in a post, can compromise your privacy. Not many people are going to be aware of this, and I feel like if people knew what they were signing up for when using these apps, they would not agree to the terms. The face that these companies use the implied in-fact contract to gain most of their rights is ethically wrong in my opinion. It makes it impossible to live any other way, because making moves to protect yourself will be seen as going against the grain of society. Social media has become an integral part of society, and if you want to be fully protected you have to give that up which may take away many opportunities from you. Especially if you do not know how life was before all of this technology (my generation). While I am aware of some of the privacy I give up on a daily basis, I continue to do most of it because they made it hard to live without it. Some people say Mark Zuckerberg is more powerful than the President of the United States, and I believe that due to the information he has on so many people around the world.

  18. Right away this article caught my attention for a few reasons. I am on my phone a lot and as an average teenager I do use a lot of different social media apps and some messaging apps so this does impact me and if I find out a certain app does something with my information or drains my battery I may have to stop using it. Before even reading the article it really makes you think just how many companies out there have your personal information and how many of them are selling you information off to advertisement companies. There was a big debate with google when they began selling off peoples recent google searches to ad companies so the companies would flash the certain ads for what the person was searching for. This was much like on Instagram when you clicked an ad, Instagram would purposefully put out more ads on your page that had anything to do with the first ad you picked. This is not illegal since the host site does have the rights to know what you are doing on their app, but it is a type of invasion of privacy. After reading this article I found out some interesting information. Instagram downloads every picture everyone posts. They download the pictures but in a smaller form to fit their storage. This means that every post you put on Instagram whether you are private or not, gets downloaded. So even if you post a picture and you delete the said picture, Instagram still has the picture downloaded in their system. It never truly gets deleted. This is extremely surprising. When first reading this I was completely in awe. This is not the only social media platform that does it, Facebook does it too as it is the parent company and owner of Instagram. These two social media sites are two of the most popular social medias in the world. Instagram is more for the younger demographic while Facebook is for the older demographic. The fact that each social media saves your picture to their database is a little worrying. Overall, this article really made me rethink my posts on both of those sites. I may want to look further into the terms and conditions before I sign up for any social media platforms.

  19. Personally, reading this article surprised me because I did not know how much harm a link preview can do when you are on the internet. The article informed me that when I see a link pop up whether it be on my phone or my computer, it opens the link before I even make the decision to click it or not which is something that I was unaware of. Disabling link previews from any form of technology is very important in order to prevent hacks and attacks from outside users in order to prevent anything from happening to the software of the technology. There are many apps that I was unaware of that can endanger the security of people and of the technology as a whole. There are various links that pop up on my phone on a daily basis when I am searching the internet that I did not realize have such an effect on hacking and the security information on my smartphone. Nowadays a smartphone contains just about all the information that anyone would need to know about people in order to hack them. Things such as addresses, passwords, credit card information’s, etc.
    For example, when ordering from a website, such as ordering clothes you have to make sure that the website is completely secure and will hold your information safe. There have been many instances where the website has not been safe and that could lead to the information being leaked and used by other people on other websites. This comes back to a similar topic researched in TID three, terms and use agreements. Before placing an order or even accessing a website it is important to read the conditions that you are agreeing to before you act on doing anything, so you are aware of what you are doing. In order to be sure that the website that you are accessing is secure as a lesson learned, it is essential to read the agreement of the terms. One improvement that I feel that websites and even apps should work on is to make sure that they are telling the users the risks and the conditions that they are under. Many people use apps and websites on a daily basis without even knowing what they are agreeing to just by opening and accessing the app itself. It is the job of the developers and the companies to inform the users of things like that or else there is more of a risk of being hacked.

  20. I was surprised to learn that something as small as connection previews would make users vulnerable to attacks, as an internet user who tries their best to avoid being more open to attacks than anyone. Before I decided whether or not I wanted to visit that site, I did not know that the previews meant that my phone was opening the links and now I would be searching for some way to disable them.Many online sources use our data to test their own services, but many apps, such as Instagram and Facebook, download our information for their own business, such as ads and promotional items that can be bought by users of the application. This has become a more talked about issue with the increase in social media over the past few years. The app Tik Tok has been in the news alot lately for being accused of taking people’s personal information. This event led to the President of the United States threatening to ban the app due to national security reasons. Those apps can endanger our privacy and risk our smartphones as well.With social media applications, there are so many privacy and security problems that people have no idea about. I believe these applications should have to inform their users about these issues of privacy and protection. Such applications have a responsibility to warn the public that they are at risk of being used.

  21. This article came as a complete shock to me. I had no idea that every time I share a video clip or link my phone is becoming vulnerable to malware. My phone is an essential part of my life at this point as I use it numerous times every hour to communicate with my friends and family. I also use my phone for entertainment i.e. youtube, twitter, snapchat etc. I have heard of plenty of apps that run in the background of your phone and promise you rewards for letting them use your processing power, and in turn you end up with nothing but a phone battery that dies very quickly and a phone that feels like it is overheating. The fact that Facebook and Instagram were the biggest offenders when it comes to data mining scandals because Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have already faced consequences for numerous different issues with user privacy in the past. This scares me as many people save their content on the apps which mean that Facebook or Snapchat could look through your privately saved content whether it’s meant to be kept hidden or not. The fact that every message I send through these servers is sent through servers and information is retained has me in fear of my safety. PlayStation also mentioned something about their new console update saying that users party chat would be recorded to keep their space safe but in my opinion that is another invasion of privacy and should not be let through and it is the new reason why I dislike PlayStation. To end, the fact that Facebook can retain an unlimited amount of information sent through their servers means that they are viewing personal content and I don’t think anyone should stand for it. Link previews seemed like they were a really nice convenient feature but after hearing the ramifications of said feature I would rather them not be a thing if it means the leaking of what should be encrypted messages.

  22. Link previews are not something that I had considered an issue of privacy. Link previews had so naturally become a part of digital communication that I never questioned the validity of security of the feature. The feature as a whole seems harmless, if anything one would expect that previewing the destination of the link beforehand would allow for safer internet browsing since the person receiving the link would be aware of what they’re clicking on before entering unknown digital territory. Unfortunately, the use of a link preview feature on some messaging platforms means the opposite of user protection. Researchers, Haj Bakry and Mysk, discovered that in messaging apps like Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, and Line, the link preview feature is not only automatic, but it downloads and copies a linked file entry meaning that it could invade the privacy of the user sending it. When the discoverers of this, Haj Bakry and Mysk, came across the issue they contacted Facebook and were met with denial that the app had no true issue and was working as intended. A precarious feature such as a preview link should be optional on every messaging platform to ensure the safety and comfort of its users.

  23. While prior to reading this article I didn’t think much about link previews or have any idea of their potential harm, this has definitely opened my eyes on some of the apps I frequently use on a day to day basis. As a regular social media user, seeing apps like Instagram fail numerous tests conducted in regards to the protection of data from link previews is very worrisome. In fact, Instagram and owner Facebook were the worst offenders in the entire study, downloading any private link to it’s server even if gigabytes in size. While I can’t recall ever sharing a link via Instagram in the past, I know I have done it in places such as iMessage. Thankfully, iMessage and the majority of messenger options are doing things right. Some commonly used apps even give users the option of receiving no link previews, which is the safest possible option. This article and study was very informative, and as stated right before the final paragraph, serves as “a good reminder that private messages aren’t always, well, private.”

  24. This article brings up some interesting points about privacy and security. Most people have seen link previews before, but not everyone realizes how they work. Link previews are a feature designed to help members of a chat understand what content is being linked in the conversation by including a headline and an image. However, in order to provide a preview, either the app or a proxy has to open that link and retrieve the information to display in the message. When the link is opened, users are vulnerable to cyber attacks. For these reasons, there are a few privacy and security concerns associated with link previews.

    As time goes on, consumers are becoming more and more cautious about maintaining their privacy and security. With something as simple as a link preview, many consumers may not even realize the risk. Those who are aware of the risks may appreciate features that allow customers to turn off previews. Those who send messages that are meant to be encrypted may especially appreciate the added privacy that turning off link previews would give them. Additionally, it may be beneficial for consumers to do research on the apps they use before they use them. There are a few apps that have fairly secure and private ways of displaying previews, as the article mentioned. However, it could be helpful for consumers to do research on the apps they’re using even when those apps don’t involve sending messages. This is just one way that consumer information can be put at risk, so in the future, consumers will have to be careful about apps they use.

  25. The internet and the technology we have nowadays is super complex and interesting and there are many aspects that we are not familiar with. A link preview “is a ubiquitous feature found in just about every chat and messaging app, and with good reason” which makes online conversations easier by providing images and text associated with the file that is being linked. As helpful as they can be link previews can “leak our sensitive data, consume our limited bandwidth, drain our batteries, and, in one case, expose links in chats that are supposed to be end-to-end encrypted.” The messengers most responsible for leaking that stuff are Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Line. All four apps requirement personal information to sign up and use so it makes sense that they leak our info the most. Attackers usually go for our info when we click on a link that leads to us opening some kind of file. The most severe kind of hacking that can take place with these apps are when hackers install malware. This malware crash apps, drain your phone batteries, and steal tax returns that are stored on a person’s computer. Apps such as Discord, Google Hangouts, Slack, Twitter, and Zoom also lead to some hacking but not as much as the other apps I mentioned. Apps such as Signal, Threema, TikTok, and WeChat all have avoided lots of hacking because they give the users the option of receiving no link preview. The author of this article believes that those apps are the best to use if you need to send a message that 100 percent needs to be private. This article was very eye opening for me. I am a frequent user of most of the apps mentioned and it is scary to think that my personal info could be getting hacked into. The scary part about this whole hacking situation is the internet and our technology are still evolving and improving. As they both continue to evolve, security system will improve but so will hackers as they will find ways around the systems. Going forward I will try to make sure an app is secure before I decide to sign up and trust them with my private info. It is sometimes impossible to know when you have been hacked so I will check very often. All the apps that are safe now I am sure will be hacked at some point because honestly it seems like no app or internet is 100% safe.

  26. As an avid user of social media, I found this article to be incredibly informative. When you send someone a link to an article or video many messaging platforms provide a preview of the link within the chat. For a YouTube video this might look like the video’s thumbnail, while a link to an article might display a picture that the author included. Though this may seem like a nice sneak peek before you click on the link, these previews have a hidden dark side. When link previews appear they can “leak our sensitive data, consume our limited bandwidth, drain our batteries, and, in one case, expose links in chats that are supposed to be end-to-end encrypted” (Goodin).

    Facebook and Instagram’s messaging features are especially guilty of this, and with 71% of teens aged 13 to 17 using social media, this hidden risk is alarming (ActForYouth). When the authors of the survey in question reached out to Facebook for comment they were told that “servers download only a downscaled version of an image, not the original file, and that the company doesn’t store that data” (Goodin). However, this is not what they found in their study, where Instagram downloaded the complete file.

    I believe that this article is a timely reminder that as the author puts it private messaging isn’t always private. While many citizens would like to believe that the government will protect us from data privacy violations this is not always the case and the best course of action is always to be on the defense. We should all take steps to do this by checking the settings in our apps and taking it upon ourselves to learn what data is protected and what isn’t. A great resource for those who want to better understand these things is the U.S. Surveillance Law, but at the end of the day, the only person who truly wants to protect your data privacy is you.

    https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2020/10/study-shows-which-messengers-leak-your-data-drain-your-battery-and-more/

    http://actforyouth.net/adolescence/demographics/internet.cfm

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2703

  27. This article discusses how messenger apps can actually harm its users the more they are used. These harmful effects can range from leaking data, draining battery, and more. Whenever a message is sent between the sender and the recipient, the messenger app sends downloaded pictures by providing links to the webpage it is shown on. These links allow the recipient to see the full image on its original website. However, it is at this moment in time where messengers are prone to malware attacks. “When a sender includes a link in a message, the app will display the conversation along with text (usually a headline) and images that accompany the link… For this to happen, the app itself—or a proxy designated by the app—has to visit the link, open the file there, and survey what’s in it. This can open users to attacks”. This is what makes messaging so much more dangerous, since it runs the risk of exposing people’s devices to the effects of malware.

    There are many popular/well-known messenger apps that can cause these issues for users, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Line. In fact, these four apps in particular are thought to be the worst offenders. The article states… “Unfortunately, they can also leak our sensitive data, consume our limited bandwidth, drain our batteries, and, in one case, expose links in chats that are supposed to be end-to-end encrypted. Among the worst offenders, according to research published on Monday, were messengers from Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Line”. While apps like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are considered the worst offenders according to the article’s referenced study, both insist that their apps work as intended. All of these apps download downscaled versions of the original pictures, and in addition, they don’t store any downloaded data. LinkedIn performs slightly better than Facebook and Instagram because it restricts copied files more than the others. However, Line sends image links Line servers in messages to be previewed, which arguably defeats the purpose of encrypting data. On the bright side, it seems that most messaging apps nowadays carry less risk of downloading malware because they cap off how much data can be downloaded with each sent image.

    I never knew that all of these commonly used messenger apps could run the risk of introducing devices to malware. However, I find comfort in knowing that most messenger app companies are already aware of this situation and have already taken precautions to prevent such things from happening. It can’t be stressed enough just how important cyber security is for a time like ours, where people are so heavily reliant on technology. There really is so much more that we have to learn about social media, and this article brings us one step closer to fully understanding every aspect of using social media.

  28. Link previews are a feature that I never knew could suscept people to attacks on the internet. They make things easier to see and read in messaging apps, give an insight into what a webpage has to offer before actually browsing it, and shows how images can look like without actually viewing the image. From reading the article, however, they leak sensitive data, drain our batteries, and even expose links that are supposed to be end-to-end encrypted. This affects security on laptops or PCs, but mostly on phones. Some people do not even have security applications installed on their smartphones and that ends up making them more susceptible to these attacks. People who do not have unlimited data usage on their phones will see their gigabytes being used up fairly quickly because they have to download the previews and run them. While link previews make life easier by getting a sneak peek into what we are about to access, some of the negative aspects that go into them are ignored quite frequently. Security breaches, overuse of data, and the drainage of batteries on the device are factors that need to be looked into when using these previews, and if they are not something that people like, either disabling it or installing a security application on a device makes it easier to control.

  29. In today’s society, having some sort of phone is almost a necessity as everything is now online, and if you do not have one, you may feel left out. I never really thought much about link previews or had any idea of their potential harm. I thought this article came at perfect time, after concluding TID#3 which touched on some of these topics, such as companies use of our private and sensitive information. The company that I was shocked the most about was Instagram. I did not know that they copy and download any file sent in a message, no matter the size. I thought that this was somewhat scary, that they will copy and download any file sent. I also did not know that Instagram servers run on any Java Script. I was shocked by the chart presented in the article with all the most prominent messaging apps. I was shocked, that most of the lesser known companies, actually provided the best privacy settings for their users, for example We Chat and Threema. I was surprised to see that LinkedIn, LINE, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and Reddit were the worst out of all the companies listed. I am not overly concerned, as I do not send pictures or links that much, I only send my friends other posts that are already on Instagram. However, I still do not want Instagram using and storing my personal information, as if they get hacked like Target or Wawa, hundreds of thousands of people’s information will be vulnerable and exposed. And iMessage, the messaging app I use the most, does not send my personal information, again, so I have nothing to worry about. Lastly, this article is a reminder, that everything is not always as it seems, for example these “private” messaging apps are not so “private” after all. And we should be careful of what we send and post online, as it truly is there forever with these companies downloading and potentially sharing these posts

  30. I try to think that I am a very cautious to preventing any sort of attacks from happening through any of my devices, but after reading this article I was surprised to see just how common and easy it was for my personal information to be leaked. Big companies such as Facebook and Instagram are all platforms that are susceptible to breaching your privacy and security. As like many other people, I use my phone quite often and for various things such as for school, work, and general socializing and entertainment. I store very important information regarding my business and other personal information. To see that my information can be leaked so easily is quite frightening. Ironically, before reading this article, I have recently started to get random messages on occasions with a preview link. I have never opened them because I had a feeling that they could potentially be part of a scam. Earlier this year in April, it was shown that a Facebook Dark Web deal was made where hackers sold 267 million user profiles for just $540. Although thankfully no passwords were available, but data such as email addresses, date of births, and phone numbers. All of which are a perfect set of data with which to craft a text or email preview links on behalf of Facebook. Social media has become an essential communication tool that many people are using in today’s day and age. However, even with the widespread knowledge of social media platforms leaking personal data, I am very doubtful that most people, including myself, will even consider not using them. But knowing what I know now after reading this article, I will most definitely be spreading the word to the people I know to be more cautious when receiving, sending, or opening preview links. If we cannot get off social media platforms, the least we can do is be cautious when we see preview links pop up.

  31. In today’s world, most people have access to a smartphone and have multiple apps installed which effect their devices battery life. Research published recently labeled the most notorious application offenders Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. What most people may not realize is that when sending a text and including a link of image, they are putting the receiver at risk for a malware attack. Furthermore, opening a text or accessing a link may force a downloadable file large enough to the battery of one’s device and consumes their limited bandwidth. When a user uses Facebook messenger of Instagram, both of these apps download and copy the entirety of a linked file. Behind the scenes of each app, when copying over data, sensitive private information can be leaked. Therefore, it is important for users to know that they have the option to choose to not preview the link, especially with sensitive information where privacy is an issue. An additional problematic concern with Instagram is that is causes any JavaScript link to run on preview which leaves the users browser vulnerable to malicious scripts to run on client’s smartphones. This can result in data theft, malware spreading or control over a user’s browser. Moreover, apps that run on JavaScript make them prime targets for hackers to trick users into performing unintended actions. Although link previews provide convenience to the user, it also compromises the user’s privacy and security. In addition, it can expose links that are supposed to be end-to-end encrypted.

  32. The amount of damage that a link preview can do is insane to me because you would never suspect it does such things. For myself, link previews are extremely common for all of my group chats across all platforms such as Instagram, iMessage, and Twitter. When someone texts a link in a group chat such as a link to a Tiktok I was unaware it would drain the battery, bandwidth, and even some data. I use my phone a large amount and to think that my data becomes at risk without even having to visit the link is scary. When the link is previewed and shows an image as a snippet it already has had the app it was sent over open and inspect it which can put you at risk to lose more sensitive information. I also find it surprising that this is allowed as it allows the app in use to inspect a link and grant access to themselves about the information displayed on the link. Info that was supposed to be private is now under access for companies such as Facebook. The article shows a table that all links shared on Instagram are subject to unlimited amounts of unauthorized copies of the link. Some apps are at risk for exposing your IP which can reveal an immense amount of information about you and give hackers access to a lot of your accounts. Im not a fan of the idea companies can take all this info and also put the consumers at risk at the same time. For me personally and a large number of my close friends and family phones are a key component of our lives and most are unaware of all the risks you can be put at by using it. Lacking education on protecting our privacy online can open even more people open to these links heavily affecting and ruining their lives. Companies are given the option to restrict risks like these and continue to not fully protect the consumer because they profit off the information they gain from you. Morally I disagree with the money-hungry thoughts people in the tech industry follow and think we need to find safer ways to go about it. In this situation, the option to disable link previews could help.

  33. Data being leaked from messenger apps is a bad thing no matter how you see it. Draining our batteries, limiting the bandwidth, and exposing links in chats that are only supposed to be private between two ends, are common amongst the messenger giants like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and so on. These are all apps that are used even by myself everyday, and who knows what data has been leaked before without my knowledge. Link previews are supposed to be helping the user so the messaging apps can be easier to use and more friendly for universal use. But it just exposes consumers to the everlasting chance of their data being breached. It could be a dangerous link potentially damaging their device, and exposing financial data or personal information that could do a good amount of damage.Sending delicate information on applications that have interface reviews turns out to be very testing, particularly when it appears to be that there are no obvious secure choices. Information protection and security are in danger

  34. The study conducted is a grim reminder that anything you put on the internet is subject to public access—even if you are sending it through supposedly private or direct messages. Link previews are a relatively new feature of messaging, and at face value, the intent was to make life more convenient for the user; get a peek of the site you are about to visit before you even click the link. However, face value cannot always be trusted. I am not implying that the intent of link previews was to provide messenger and social media companies the ability to save even more of our personal data—I am also not implying that, while that was not the primary intent, these companies did not bother to reinforce their security measures and the privacy of the user as access to such data would benefit the company. One can only speculate.
    The number of messengers that are not end-to-end encrypted is actually quite surprising; while people make jokes about big data companies listening in and snatching data whatever chance they get, most people believe that the messages they send are entirely private—just between them, the recipient… and the social media platform.
    Nonetheless, as somebody who does her best to keep her distance from social media platforms, I can rest assured that my data through iMessage is more secure than the data of those who use the likes of Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn (I mean, it’s not like Facebook has been caught in data-based scandals before, so why would you even think to worry about that?). However, as somebody who intends to enter the field of marketing and advertising, where I will surely be using social media at one point or another, I think it is critical to know which messenger platforms are the most secure in terms of all kinds of messages, not just link previews—not that I would be sending any critical company data through a social media or messenger platform.

  35. Looking forward, one of the top 5 biggest issues we will have to face as a technologically indoctrinated society is privacy. After reading this article, it makes me believe that the only privacy I may be provided is through in person conversation in the middle of the woods without technology. Even then it would feel like someone is hearing my conversations. In that regard, I wish I had never read this article. It’s no surprise that Facebook and Instagram (owned by Facebook) are platforms that download and copy any link you send through their platform to their servers. Facebook claims that it only would download a downscaled version of an image sent, and the company doesn’t store that data. If they don’t store the data as they allege, why is there no limit on what gets downloaded and copied to their servers? What would be the point of downloading sometimes as much as 2.6 gigabytes just to not save it? But as I said before, it’s no surprise Facebook is under this spotlight. One thing that does surprise me, however, is how many of these programs I use. In fact, I have Discord pulled up in a different window as I type this comment. What I’m surprised about is that companies like TikTok put forth solid and appropriate measures to combat the issue of link previews. This is surprising because TikTok is a Chinese company and Chinese tech companies always have a certain stigma about them, whether it be about either censorship or harvesting information. I was also surprised that some of these applications drain your battery. My question is “what is the incentive of doing this?” As far as I know, draining one person’s phone battery shouldn’t benefit anyone else, except maybe phone companies like Apple luring customers to buy their new phones with longer battery life. In all, I think that link previews are unnecessary. In some ways, it is a neat addition to a messaging platform but it is completely unnecessary and compromises privacy. For such a meaningless feature, we are being spied on yet again. It’s time to make a change.

  36. Links me download use our private information to their advantage. Just by clicking onto something you can have an ad pop up later onto your social media on the exact thing that you clicked on may be a couple minutes ago. There was a case a couple years ago from the owner of Facebook stating that Facebook was selling information that you research from your technology and using it to put ads that were from what you last researched on your Internet. This feels like an invasion of privacy because people can use this information like hackers to gain your credit card information and steal money from you. Facebook used information on what you researched and sold it to advertisements companies to gain money and profit. Smart phones have been hacked into using information like this that is sold. Which makes it scary because you have no privacy yet whenever you want to search something the information comes back and is uploaded onto your page that you are currently using. From these links being led other information can be linked to like credit card numbers and that can become an even bigger problem but when accepting terms and conditions under many companies agreements contracts some state that information that is sold from your so-called smart phone or technology is not their responsibility. That’s why it’s very important to read the terms and conditions.

  37. I find it appalling that apps we put our trust in have the capability to download files we send to one another. (And by “trust,” I mean by making our profiles public or private.) Before reading this article, I was unaware of the purposeful breaches in consumer privacy, and I thought the only security features in place were the privacy status of our accounts and being able to block other users. I did not know that the companies would be downloading our files and see no problem with it, as mentioned in the video. However, it makes me pose the question, what is this all for? The links I send back and forth with my friends are solely for our enjoyment, not legal purposes. Why do these sites feel the need to download this data? The article mentions that sites like Instagram and Facebook Messenger are among the list of companies that have the worst reputation regarding this issue. It mentions that if documents like tax returns were to be shared, it would be dangerous in the hands of big companies who could then download and share the data. However, this confuses me because why would anyone send a document as important as tax returns as a private message on a social media app? In my opinion, this should be done over a system that is known to be secure and has a reputation in the financial field – not social media.

    It also does not sit well with me that the creators of these sites have different answers as to the capacity that our privacy is being violated. It eliminates the trust between the consumer and the owner, and I am surprised that this news is not on the headline because of how many people it affects. If more people were informed of this issue I think there would be an incentive for these companies to stop the practice of downloading private files for their own use.

  38. After reading an article like this, my eyes have opened up to a lot more possibilities of my data being taken, leaked, or even sold. Many of us are oblivious to the fact that the very social media platforms we all enjoy have a lot of access to the data on our phones and computers. In the article posted in the blog, it discusses the messengers from certain apps that are able to leak your data. The most interesting part about this is how this data has been leaked, and which apps are doing it. One of the biggest reasons data is being leaked is because of the link previews that these apps enforce. When someone sends a link to another person, the app “has to visit the link, open the file there, and survey what’s in it. This can open users to attacks. The most severe are those that can download malware. Other forms of malice might be forcing an app to download files so big they cause the app to crash, drain batteries, or consume limited amounts of bandwidth.” What this means is that the app has to make sure the link is safe, but by doing that, that means it can go through your data, and the websites data. Now this is just wrong and should not be allowed, and it is very fascinating that something such as a preview link would allow access to so much personal data from the consumer. I honestly think that these preview links were placed there purposefully, for an excuse for these social media platforms to have access to data that could end up being beneficial to them. Luckily, many apps like “Signal, Threema, TikTok, and WeChat all give the users the option of receiving no link preview. For truly sensitive messages and users who want as much privacy as possible, this is the best setting. Even when previews are provided, these apps are using relatively safe means to render them.” These companies are examples of companies that allow you to have the option to let these link previews have access to your data, and even have a setting for it in the settings. Unfortunately, more apps are not like this, and they will continue to take your data if you use their messengers.

  39. After reading Ars Techina’s article, I am frightened at the thought of sharing things on social media. People who use social media are starting to realize that our phones and applications take our information. For example, if I talk about an item or store with someone around me, when I go on Instagram or Facebook, a sponsored post comes up from that store I was talking about. It is truly a scary thought, your phone listens to everything you say, and applications store this data. In Ars Techina’s article, they tell us how when you send a link through messenger on Facebook or Instagram, the application stores your data and the link you sent. Even if the link is private, they save the full image and save it indefinitely. In the chart that was given in the article it shows us what applications are end-to-end encrypted, and unfortunately not many are. Although we are focusing on Facebook and Instagram, applications such as Twitter, Zoom, Tik Tok, and Google Hangouts all store your data. Unfortunately, when people communicate through any of these applications, they think they are doing so privately. Many users have no idea that your phone listens to everything you say or the links you send are stored in an applications database. I did not know my links or messages were stored until after reading this article. IMessage, the text message application on iPhones, is in fact private. It is important to send links or private messages through safe applications instead of risking your data through application messengers. As time goes on people are catching on to the things that applications are doing. Taking information, using what you say to advertise companies, and store private messages. Unfortunately, all these things we are okay with because we agreed to the Terms of Use of the application. While this all seems ridiculous, we signed up for it. But did we sign up for them to keep our messages indefinitely? To find this out we must go through the terms of use agreement in depth to see if this is truly what we agreed to. Sadly, applications such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are able to be accessed by people around the world, and by sending a direct message they are able to connect with people in other parts of the world with no cost. By taking links out of messages and storing them, their messages are not private, and it makes users hesitant to use their services. Not many people have read this article and know what is going on through using applications. Many people who read this article are not going to think it is a big deal, but it is. When will users obtain privacy? Will we ever? Will we ever have a private message? Only time will tell, but at these rate, in a few years no information of ours will be private.

  40. The findings that Facebook was the most egregious offenders to our privacy and security do not surprise me. They continue to be the privacy bad guys, and one day, it will catch up to them through legislation or consumer confidence. One thing that surprised me was WhatsApp doing well on privacy when Facebook recently acquired them. It would be interesting to run this same test in a few months or a year from now when software engineers have had the time to switch over WhatsApp’s infrastructures if they plan to do so. LinkedIn was disappointing. As a Microsoft owned company, I would have expected better as Microsoft tends to be pretty good with privacy. Google vastly overperformed their reputation that is akin to Facebook’s, and Apple continues to be a privacy king. Tik Tok, who had a privacy scare this year, did great as well, so that is a pleasant surprise, but it doesn’t mean they are not harvesting Data elsewhere.
    Privacy is a topic I struggle with. Part of me wants to join my tech geek peers in a fight for privacy, but I don’t think it is that one-sided. Sacrificing privacy has its benefits, free services, better services that can utilize more data, and convenience, but is it really worth the sacrifice? I think a good place to start would be transparency and options. If privacy is going to defeat big data, let it but give consumers a choice. There should be and are pushes to educate consumers on privacy. I think giving users an option of say $5 a month to not have your data harvested and giving them an option to feed their data to the tech overlords for free. Edward Snowden said, “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different from saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” When I read that, it struck me and put the issue into perspective. I think we have a right to privacy, and some challenging constitutional issues will need to balance the human-tech relationship.
    To call out Apple for a moment, I do not think they are a paragon of virtue with privacy. It is certainly admirable, but it should be remembered that every privacy feature they develop that does not work with android phones builds the fence around their walled garden higher and higher. Privacy is their excuse to behave like a monopoly in the app store, causing recent lawsuits. I would hate for Apple to do too much of a good thing and damage privacy integrity.

  41. One thing that I have learned a lot more about over the course of this class is online safety and protecting your identity when using the internet. We have discussed how people have very little privacy while on the web, with many websites tracking your information and storing it or selling it doing so without the user often even being aware that it is happening. In relation to this article I was unaware that so many apps had the access to private information that they have. Applications like twitter, Zoom, and Discord can copy form 15- 30 MB of a user’s private information. Even worse than that, Facebook messenger and Instagram can copy unlimited amounts of personal information. I did not know that they were able to do this before and this has made me pretty skeptical about the applications now. This is an invasion of privacy being able to store as much information as they do like this from within something that people think is a private message. Along with avoiding these messages I will try to avoid getting click baited into random links. The article states how these are prone to data leakage and potential bandwidth and battery drainage problems that I would like to stray away from moving forward. This article was pretty interesting and made me aware of things that I had not known before.

  42. Social media websites have become extremely intertwined with everyday life. It is more uncommon to not have any social media than to have them. With this it has become commonplace to share intimate details online. For example, Facebook allows users to put where they work, live, and went to school all on their profile. LinkedIn profiles go depth of the user’s education and employment history. These are details that one would want to remain private to anyone outside its intended audience, in this case being friends on the app. However, these apps use link previews to display information, which leak private information.

    When an app provides a link preview, it has to visit the link and scan the information. It can also download the malware from these links. Once the app has the document it is no longer private, even if you are unaware of it. It is commonly known that once something is on the internet it is there forever, and that is because these apps are allowed to download and keep people’s private documents, links, and messages. Large companies, like Facebook and LinkedIn, should not be allowed to manipulate privacy in this way. Facebook stated that when an image is downloaded it is a downscaled version rather than the original size. However, it has been proven that the company does download content in its entirety. This is not fair to consumers, who assume they enough privacy to share personal information.

    Message previews can also drain your phone’s battery. This happens because some apps download large files. This should not be the consumer’s main concern. While this is an inconvenience, the route of the issue stems from these apps collecting private information. This can go as far as downloading a tax return. Anything on a private OneDrive may be downloaded. Documents kept here may keep sensitive information, like a social security number, which is detrimental to share. Apps like Tiktok and WeChat have options to remove link previews. This is the safest option to consumers and should be the more widespread practice. Change must be made to keep people’s private information private.

  43. In the majority of the articles posted to the SW Blog, the themes of website platform holders either abusing their power or neglecting to use their power in a helpful way appears more often then not. Continuing the trend is this article from ars technica, in which they list some of the worst offending platforms that make brazen anti consumer moves in order to improve their own selves, either by making it easier to earn money off of its users or by saving costs by withholding features that would benefit the consumer. The article in question is mostly referring to the concept of link previews and what security flaws they expose in our systems that the holders just did not cover for their customers and users. What I wish to solve is the logic behind these sort of decisions, as I find it baffling why anyone who runs a company would purposely make their product work poorly, though I should mention that this does not include those who unintentionally leave bugs or glitches in products, as that would be an honest mistake. However, there have been reported cases of a company or platform claiming that they were not aware of any problems but then admitting later that they always knew. But for me, the reason why I cannot comprehend making intentionally defective products is then it pollutes the image of those who make it. As an early example, the original Xbox 360 was infamous for suffering the dreaded “red ring of death.” This was an issue that caused the power button to remain the color red and make it impossible to turn on again. Public perception became so bad because of this that many swore off Microsoft products again. To combat the heavy negative stereotypes associated with their brand, Microsoft took excessive steps to fight the image they unintentionally gave themselves by offering free repairs to all existing units with the defect. In this way, the Xbox brand was saved from becoming a total write off. So when I question why any company would willingly give themselves bad press, it is because of the extensive moves they must make in order to repair it again in the first place. A good reputation is hard to maintain, a broken one is even harder to repair. So my advice to these platforms suffering from these issues with link previews is to fix it for the consumers before their names are mud.

  44. Before our unit on contract law, I was completely unaware of the power that different apps and online services had over us, but now after doing research not just on these platforms, but also doing research on the class TID it all makes more and more sense to me now. When it comes to online laws and the regulation of these services, there are not many out there that truly help the consumer and I feel as though this has a a lot to do with the fact that all of the power that a website has over us is completely visible and accessible to the consumer from the moment we open up their software. Many people believe that these online services and platforms have too much power over the people who access their equipment, but after doing the TID I feel more towards the side of the producers. When you really look at it from a bigger picture, the same way these sites and platforms have power over us is the same scheme that is used when it comes to the constitution of a country. You don’t get to decide what it is that you want to abide by when you enter a country and the constitution they took time to build so why should you have that privilege when it comes to a website when it was built in similar fashion. Big companies have a lot of power, and a possible reason for the for lack of regulation is that these big tech companies are able to fund politicians. This allows bigger companies to operate with such a freedom we haven’ seen since monopolies were ruled illegal. Most recently Facebook faced a huge backlash over the controversy of the way in which they used the data of their consumers. Currently Facebook is home to 2.6 billion monthly users and 1.73 billion of these users use the app daily. This is at least 2.6 billion people that Facebook can update the information they have stored on them monthly. Companies like Facebook, use the implied in-fact contract to gain most of their rights while some may feel is a moral offense, I feel as though it is the consumer’s job to read the Terms of Use and find out what exactly it is that they are giving these companies control over as they browse their sites. Where this becomes controversial is that not many people feel as though they should have to read the Terms of Use due the fact that social media has become an almost necessary part of society. Although social media is a lot of people’s way to stay within the news it is not the only way to learn and keep up with the world.

  45. As someone who works closely with Instagram, you’d be amazed how easily links and other materials can be exploited. For instance, some users make false links that lead to ip grabbing sites. These sites acquire your ip address, dox, and more; and usually they’re masked as a normal average site. There is little to no security when it comes to link sites, and thus leads to many issues arising. Security on most sites is poor, many methods exist to acquire accounts, private messages, and more. The site itself already has access to plenty of your personal information and it only expands once other users learn to breach their rather weak protection methods. Security is also at risk when some links cause spam popups to occur, popups that force you to access sites that can be harmful to your device. They can forcefully take you to virus sites and more.

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