Advice Column, FYI Play it Safe, Recently, Tech

Chat apps – the devil you think you know…

  • FYI Play it Safe
  • Category Advice Column, FYI Play it Safe, Recently, Tech

Towards the end of 2020, WhatsApp made a big announcement that they would be updating their privacy policy applicable to all the WhatsApp users. At that stage, WhatsApp’s privacy policies already granted the sharing of personal information to Facebook, but limited to the phone numbers and device information. The update to the policy would allow WhatsApp to also share payment and transaction data to better target advertisements and expand the ecommerce capabilities.

WhatsApp received significant backlash from users with a lot of users starting to investigate alternatives before the effective date of the new privacy policy. Many people, including groups of families and circles of friends, migrated to Signal and Telegram. Almost a year later, at the end of 2021, we have to ask: “The devil you know, or the devil you don’t?”

FYI play it safe received a message from an enlightened parent. As a family, they decided to swap WhatsApp for Telegram. They were not aware of the risks of this new chat app and didn’t know about the security settings that should be set – especially if children use the app.

This parent started noticing a change in their teenager’s behaviour and investigated by going through her Telegram messages. The app allows people to discover and chat to people “nearby” and also have “nearby groups”. She started dabbling in drugs, because it was super easy for her to buy what she wanted and to start experimenting. What started off with a bit of weed, progressed to harder drugs, which quickly escalated to heroin addiction. 

Fortunately, her father intervened and responded with urgency and together, they found the right support. Well done, Dad!

When you are starting to use an app, and more importantly, when your children start to explore new apps, make sure to go into each setting and select the most private and most secure options. It is equally important to discuss this with your children and explain to them why you are putting these security measures in place. Location services on chat-type apps should never be allowed and all the necessary private information should only be visible to your child’s contacts. 

FYI play it safe monitors the contents of every single app. Whether your child is doing a Google search, chatting with his online gaming-friends in a chat room, or using social media. As parents, you don’t have to read through thousands of messages to really know what’s going on, because FYI play it safe does that for you and will alert you if your child is exposed to a potentially harmful situation. Monitoring includes signs of cyberbullying, depression, self-harm, suicidal ideation, when they talk to strangers or predators, or if they engage in adult content such as pornography, sexting or any form of drugs.

Be the cyber-smart parent. FYI play it safe is the one app no parent should be without. Download the app at www.fyiplayitsafe.com and follow the easy three-step sign-up process to start your free 7-day trial.

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