Due care should be taken on internet

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There is an ongoing craze on the internet. People are deriving entertainment from third party applications riding off popular social sites.

These are programmes provided by vendors other than the originators.

A particular application called Testony is trending on Zimbabwean Facebook, where people are gratifying their humour needs through tailor made quizzes in local languages.

Questions like “Which game of thrones character are you?” or “Where in Harare do you stay?” have been proving to be popular among many Facebook users who then feed off the banter that follow in their respective comment sections.

How does it work?

A person crafts a quiz that is likely to resonate with their target audience and pre-loads a few humorous responses.

Most of these games are set in local languages and have littered time-lines over the past few weeks.

One of Testony’s early users in Zimbabwe, Miyamiko Banda who is a web programmer said contrary to what many may believe, the application is not Zimbabwean but has been tailor made to fit the Zimbabwean audience.

“No one in Zimbabwe can really claim to have come up with Testony anyone interested can just feed their own question and responses into the system,” Banda said.

It is tailored to context and has added a new dimension to social media use.

“Testony has grown popular because most of its content is what people have seen and know. The lingo that is on most of these quizzes is what people use every day to communicate in the physical space,” he said.

However, these fun sites or extension application come with their own undertones.

Experts have warned that there are security risks and those who take their online presence seriously, should use the application with care.

The Zimbabwe Digital Society president Chris Musodza says applications like Testony can be a gateway for malware.

“When you use third party apps that run on Facebook or any other site, you open access to some of your private data. Your private data includes your profile, your friends’ posts time-line,” he said.

The terms and conditions section which most people overlook seem to have consequences.

“So apps and games that run on Facebook collect your information to sell to advertisers. Some apps use your network as an audience for or channel for spreading malware and virus,” said Musodza.

For entrepreneur who use their social media to promote their products, third party applications may not be ideal.

“Some apps which are not developed well can also be exploited by hackers to spread malware and harvest data,” Musodza said.

Technology expert, Nigel Gambanga concurs with Musodza that due care should be taken on the internet especially on sensational gratifying applications.

“Third party apps like Testony are an amusing way of getting people engaged on social media. However, like everything else that’s “free” in the digital space there’s a price to be paid. In this case is it is privacy,” he said.

“When you sign up to use such apps they usually ask for access to your contacts and some of your personal data. Though it’s supposed to be used for just improving the service’s user experience, it also means that users will have voluntarily given up some personal information” said Gambanga.

Since the owners of most these applications are faceless, they may sell of the access to hackers.

“This same information could be used maliciously. It’s advisable to use such apps with caution and even go as far as to disable or remove them after a certain period,” he said.

Internet profiles need constant monitoring and maintenance.

“As long as many third party applications continue to access a user`s information they will be at risk of some forms of cyber intrusion,” he said.

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