It is not the first time that an app or platform has received flak for inadequate security and data breach.
There is no dearth of apps that promise to keep us connected to our near and dear ones or even open doors to those who are strangers to us. While as a part of the modern world, the apps seem irresistible but as the latest Kimbho app disaster proved, one needs to be more cautious. The app was taken down due to issues related to security and plagiarism. Facebook and Chinese app WeChat also came under the scanner after concerns around a data breach grew. We talk to experts about the growing trend and user concerns in a data-hungry, social media-fuelled world.
“As information became valuable, it was galloped by interested parties at the expense of social media users. We have seen this play out in the now infamous Cambridge Analytica fiasco where Facebook failed to protect the private data of its users. Ironically, the messenger rather than the culprit got shot (with Cambridge Analytica rather than Facebook filing for bankruptcy)! This invincibility of the social media enterprise makes it extremely lucrative for corporations to dive into this business,” says Nakshatra Pachauri, author of Post Zombieism: The Social Media.
Nakshatra adds, “The corporate interest in falsifying information again demonstrates the potential of such fakeness —magnifying profits at the expense of the users who are already reeling under the privacy breach. Nationalism feeds the paranoia in users. In social media echo chambers this can manifest in many ugly ways. Such strategies are at play as the ultimate aim of social media enterprise today is to gain and use information. We may not be able to avoid sharing, but even with that little information, it’s essential to be vigilant, prudent, informed and unemotional,”
The market is bustling with numerous ventures and messaging platforms happen to be the new craze. However, many ventures have not been able to stay in the market due to security reasons.
“In an industry already disrupted due to Jio, technology shifts and ever-changing customer preferences, this entry makes little sense. In addition to financial resources, the capabilities required to scale a telecom business successfully are completely different. It is no surprise that security experts are concerned about these messaging apps; even if the security issues are resolved, they will have to offer a pretty phenomenal value proposition to make a dent in Whatsapp’s dominance of the Indian marketplace” believes Jaideep Mehta, CEO VCCircle.
On the other hand it can’t be denied that people have made their lives very public on their own. Facebook and Whatsapp handle 60 billion messages on a daily basis. “No app put a gun to our head and forced us to share our private details. Each one of us has done it voluntarily. We want to share — to let others see more of our lives. The messenger apps provide us the platform to become public. It’s for us to choose what to share. It is no different from the products we choose in the real world for every day usage. In the physical world, we are far more circumspect. We reject brands and products that are likely to cause damage, even if the product is free. We need to display the same level of common sense in the virtual world. When our drinking water got polluted, we started using water filters. Shouldn’t we do the same with these apps?” says Aloke Malik from Traktion Solutions.
As per estimates, more than 3 billion people around the world use social media. In fact, messaging apps have surpassed social media in nearly every aspect, says Vishwa Mohan Kumar’s, CEO, Airdit Software Services. “Facebook realised the shift and came up with Messenger as a standalone app. It is important for messaging apps to focus on keeping user’s privacy intact by enabling end-to-end encryption. Now, it is difficult for me to recommend any app because all of them change over time. We need to be very careful before signing up for any messaging app,” he concludes.