Facebook Messenger has over 1.3 billion users putting it in second place not far behind its sister company WhatsApp. However, many people don’t understand that Messenger operates in a different way than other messaging apps. For example, Facebook has the right to collect all of your messages and then analyze and sell them to advertisers. Beyond privacy concerns, Facebook has had countless high profile hacks and other data breaches over the last few years. To stay safe, users need to be aware of Messenger’s security flaws and know how to protect themselves.
Messenger’s Terms of Service Problem
Messenger has major privacy problems. If most users were aware of these policies, they’d probably switch to other platforms. When you agree to Messenger’s Terms of Service, you agree that Facebook owns your data and they can use it however they see fit.
This includes all calls and messages along with other metrics like how often you contact certain people and your location history. To understand just how far their reach is, Facebook can even go into your message inbox and delete anything it wants.
Facebook’s Unencrypted Messages
It’s not just privacy that’s affected, however, as this data is vulnerable to security breaches. If you look at the other top messaging apps like WhatsApp, Apple’s iMessage, and Viber, they all have something in common—encrypted messages. This technology has been standard for nearly a decade now.
All of the messages you send on Messenger, however, are stored on Facebook’s servers. This makes it very easy for the company to scan and sell them to advertisers. This absence of security likewise makes them an easy target for hackers.
When most people think of online fraud, emails from phony princes usually come to mind. As a result, email clients have strong spam filters, and few people fall for these tricks. With Messenger, however, scams are very different. There is no built-in protection.
Oftentimes, hackers target a friend or relative’s account. In this case, they are not going to request huge amounts of money or anything overly suspicious. Instead, they’ll use a layer of trust to ask for small details they can use, like addresses, birth dates, and so on. They don’t need much information to be able to steal somebody’s identity.
For this reason, users must be able to recognize scammers. Be conscious of a person’s online activity. If it doesn’t sound like the person you know, then report the profile right away. Besides, many hackers use the pretext of emergencies to get information from people. If anybody is trying to get information from you, take a few seconds to ensure you are really talking to the right person. You can do this by asking them questions only he or she would know the answers to or by calling them.
How to Stay Safe with Messenger
Over the last few months, Facebook has faced increasing backlash because of its TOS and other policies. It’s now making changes. In the meantime, however, users need to start protecting themselves. The first step is enabling “Secret Conversations.” Go to settings in Messenger, scroll down to “Secret Conversations,” and enable them. This will encrypt your conversations.
Another essential step is protecting your network connection. Whether you are messaging, sending photos, or just browsing the web, everything you do is visible to your ISP and anyone who might be watching. You can significantly enhance your online security by using a VPN for Android(download it here). VPNs or virtual private networks enhance security by encrypting your network connection. You connect to a VPN server, which then connects to the internet. As a result, all anybody sees is your connection to one server and none of the other traffic.
You should also consider switching messaging apps. There’s nothing particularly special about Messenger. It doesn’t have the best interface or features and is full of security flaws. In addition, most people have access to several other messaging apps already. For example, many people use Messenger for social activities and more secure messaging apps for business and other needs.
Protecting Your Messaging Data
Facebook executives know what they are doing. They’ve made billions of dollars from data harvesting. They are now bowing to public pressure, but will definitely take their time implementing security changes. So it’s up to users to protect themselves. Be sure you know how to recognize scammers and protect your internet connection with a VPN for Android. These steps will keep your data safe from hackers, your ISP, and any other privacy threats.