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Could Private Messaging Apps Be the Next Frontier for the Spread of Misinformation?

Encrypted messaging apps allow users to have private conversations without worrying about being monitored. However, recent changes in the privacy policy of Facebook-owned WhatsApp has resulted in millions ditching the app for other alternatives such as Signal and Telegram.

They have also become popular amongst those barred from posting in social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. While encrypted messaging apps allow users to communicate without being spied on, the issue is whether criminals can use them as an avenue to spread misinformation without being caught. Here are some of the pros and cons of private messaging apps and public social platforms.

Misinformation

The mass migration of users from social media platforms to encrypted messaging apps has resulted in concerns about fighting misinformation. These platforms have been vocal in fighting this vice, and have even closed popular accounts.

End to end encryption apps scramble messages so they cannot be deciphered by anyone, thus offering privacy. This means it is tougher for authorities to detect the spread of misinformation. However, by taking these criminals from mainstream platforms, it is harder for them to attract sympathizers by taking advantage of the available broadcast mechanisms.

When you open a platform such as Twitter or Facebook, you may have access to what others post even if they are total strangers. However, with encrypted apps such as Signal, only those with your number can be able to reach out to you. This means sending misinformation would require a lot of effort, unlike in social platforms where it could become viral within seconds.

Could group chats be used to spread misinformation?

One may compare social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter as one big room with thousands of people, while encrypted apps may be considered one big building with private rooms where each user resides. Since everyone is in his/her own room, it would be much harder to pass information since you have to knock on each door.

Some encrypted messaging apps such as Telegram have chat rooms that allow up to 200,000 users to connect. Also, other features, such as the ability to forward messages make them vulnerable to the spread of misinformation.

However, WhatsApp and Signal restrict the number of users one can forward messages to. On the other hand, group chats are not end-to-end encrypted, which means if authorities suspect users are spreading misinformation, they have the capability of investing the contents of group chat.

The case for private messaging apps

One of the main reasons to communicate through end-to-end encrypted apps are for privacy reasons. In this era of technological sophistication, it is easy for apps to eavesdrop on our conversations.

They may then use this information for their own selfish gains. In addition to protecting your conversations, it is also imperative to be extra vigilant and practice safe internet habits such as visiting sites that have the highest level of security and privacy features such as Comeon.com to ensure your information is safe and secure.

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