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Threads' personal data collection is a 'hacker's dream,' experts say

01.08.2023
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Meta's newly launched social media platform, Threads, has quickly gained popularity, surpassing 80 million users in a short time. As users seek alternatives to Twitter, which has undergone unfavourable changes, Threads has emerged as a contender. While Meta's rival has filed a legal action accusing Threads of being a copycat, experts have expressed concern over the massive amounts of sensitive data collected by Threads, stating that it presents an appealing target for hackers. Note that hackers are also excited if they learn that your online activities are not guided by a VPN service.

Claudette McGowan, the founder of Protexxa, a Toronto-based AI platform for resolving cyber issues, describes Threads as a "hacker's dream". The platform's ability to access detailed information about users' online activities and interactions raise significant risks if this data falls into the wrong hands. McGowan adds: "The more data you have sitting in a certain position or spot is going to get people really, really excited about getting access to it and being very creative about it".

Threads fall under Meta's broader privacy policy, which also encompasses its other social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram. The policy outlines the extensive range of data Meta captures, including user-provided information during account sign-up, online activity, friendships, and device details. Threads itself has a supplemental privacy policy, indicating that it collects various information about user activities on the platform.

Brett Caraway, a media economics professor at the University of Toronto, notes that such data collection practices are not uncommon for social media services and apps. Companies often aim to acquire as much data as possible, making it their "standard repertoire". For instance, the music-centric social media app TikTok collects personal information, preferences, content, and device-related details.

Caraway emphasises that even if individuals do not engage in controversial activities or have a high-profile presence on social media, their data can still be at risk. He warns: "Just because you're safe today doesn't mean you're safe tomorrow". In an increasingly polarised world, marginalised populations may face rhetorical and legal attacks, potentially making anyone part of these marginalised groups.

When asked about privacy concerns, Meta directed inquiries to Threads' Chief Privacy Officer, Rob Sherman. Sherman argues that the app's privacy measures align with those of other Meta social apps and that users have control over the types of data they share. Nevertheless, McGowan advises users to thoroughly read privacy policies before signing up for Threads or any other service, urging them to understand how their data could be used and monetised.

McGowan also suggests considering a company's track record in handling sensitive information and being transparent with users. In the case of Threads' parent company, Meta, privacy concerns were raised in 2018 when it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had accessed the personal information of approximately 87 million Facebook users. This incident raises questions about Meta's ability to handle personal data responsibly. Hide Expert VPN is here to secure your online activities.

It's worth noting that Threads has yet to launch in the European Union due to the region's stringent data privacy rules. Sherman has stated that the app meets General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements but cites other regulatory uncertainties as a reason for the delayed launch.

For users having second thoughts about their Threads account or concerned about privacy, most services offer tools to adjust settings and limit access to personal information. However, severing ties with Threads requires deleting the associated Instagram account since the profiles are interconnected.

In a world where personal data is increasingly valuable and susceptible to misuse, individuals must embrace hide VPN and be vigilant in understanding the implications of sharing their information on social media platforms like Threads.