Protect how you connect

Social media and instant messaging services such as Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, WhatsApp, LinkedIn and WeChat give you the power to connect with others effortlessly and share information instantly. But using these services can provide threat actors easy access to your information and devices. You can even be placing your online identity and that of your friends and family at risk.

Instant messaging apps and social media platforms are not all created equal. In deciding what tools to use, you need to consider both the functionality of the service and how secure and private your information and online activity will be.

How to assess the risks of using a social media app or platform

Research the app or platform

Do your research to determine whether an app or platform is trustworthy. Pay close attention to what is being said about it in the media and by other trusted sources. You need to decide if you trust the platform to provide an app that does what it claims and nothing more.

While an app can have a high profile online and be beneficial to users, somewhere there’s a company operating that service and collecting your data. In many cases, it can access your device and the information on it and store it for its own purposes. Before you sign-up for a social media app or platform, find and read the terms of use and the privacy and data policies. It’s important to know what data you may be giving them permission to collect.

Review the security and privacy functions

Pay close attention to the app or platform’s security and privacy functions. Does it allow you to make your account private? Are you able to select who can see what content? Can you choose your followers and friends? Avoid using a platform that lacks strong authentication mechanisms, such as multi-factor authentication. You should also verify whether the platform provides urgent support if your account is compromised.

While providers may indicate their apps and platforms have built-in security controls, particularly for instant messaging services, it’s important to remember they are not foolproof. Be cautious about the content you share, the messages you send and the people you interact with.

Think security over convenience

It may be convenient to have an app always know your location or be able to fetch your photos without approval, but this isn’t the most secure option. Be aware of the features and elements of your device that can be accessed by an app, and make sure you limit permissions. This applies to features like your camera, microphone, location and contact list.

Consider where your data is being stored

Think about which nation’s laws will apply to your information and your activity on the platform. Consider how this may affect your privacy. Most social media platforms and apps will store and process your information outside of Canada. This means you may lose control of who has access to your data and how it’s being used. We recommend using providers and apps that store your data in jurisdictions that have privacy protection laws equal to Canada’s.

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