In recent weeks, the BeReal application has gained space among Brazilian users and globally, by providing yet another social network alternative focused on photos and videos of your routine.
But is it safe to use the platform? What data does it use and what kind of risks can it pose to user privacy? Detective TudoCelular investigated the situation and details it for you in this column.
What types of data does it ask for?
At the moment of creating a registration in the application, BeReal requests some personal data from the user. There are three specifically: the name, the date of birth and a phone number.
There is still the option to fill in optional profile information. These include your bio and email address.
The problem is, under the app’s privacy terms, all these details about you – both mandatory and optional – stay on the servers for up to three years after your last connection to the service.
Other types of data collected are device data. That is, the app is aware of the type of device you are using, which version of the operating system – both Android and iOS – and the IP address through which you are connected – which also means providing the general location of the moment. In this category, the storage of information lasts for up to two years after the last entry.
Lastly, there is the content data. This includes photos and videos produced through the app, as well as comments or RealMojis inserted into posts.
In addition to BeReal having this data for up to three years after your last login, contacts who will be able to see your posts will also be able to photograph or share with others. Not to mention that the production of content for the tool requires giving access permissions to your camera and your cell phone storage.
Are there privacy risks?
After all, is your privacy at risk when using BeReal? Avast’s global head of security, Jeff Williams, even issued some warnings about these threats. According to him, the application has the right to do whatever it wants with your photos for 30 years – TudoCelular has checked the document and confirms the free, non-exclusive worldwide license for intellectual property.
In addition, the expert reinforces the danger that you may have moments from your everyday life – such as embarrassing or compromising scenes – which can be used for any future campaign. Situations that should be closed would have a chance to be revealed without the user’s will.
“Imagine your most compromising and embarrassing moment being attached to an ad campaign for your friends or content that goes viral and attracts millions of viewers. Thirty years is largely forever in internet time and potentially covers 60% of one’s career years. This appears to be a particularly long grant of rights with exceptionally broad permissions for use.”
Global Head of Security at Avast
Despite committing not to sell users’ sensitive information, the app also allows third-party cookies. That is, the activity can be tracked by advertisers for personalized advertisements – although common in the digital environment, it is nonetheless invasive.
Another important point is the lack of content moderation. This is because BeReal does not consider itself a social network, but a “hosting company”. Thus, it disclaims any responsibility for what is posted. This opens the way for criminal and harmful content to society, such as hate speech and pedophilia materials, for example.
“It has been called by the press repeatedly that Meta does an inadequate job of content moderation and that’s throwing hundreds of people into trouble. I don’t think BeReal will do anything close to this investment. So the upshot is likely to be that whatever bad thing you’ve heard about lack of content moderation on Facebook, you’ll see even more on BeReal.”
How to protect yourself?
In the midst of all these risks, how can you protect yourself from the misuse of your data on BeReal? Good use ends up playing an important role at this point, amid few practices to maintain user privacy.
So, if you want to use the service, it’s worth taking care not to air content that you don’t want to be in the possession of other people without your control. In addition, if you want to stop using the platform, you can ask the company to delete your data.
So, what is your assessment of the level of user security offered by BeReal? Interact with us!
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