New Social App Combines Reality with Risks

by Aaron Jones

Applications like BeReal and TikTok are often in the news due to security concerns, but most users are ignorant to the dangers posed by these tools. TikTok was released in September of 2016 and BeReal started sometime in January of 2020. Both applications encourage users to create media of their immediate surroundings and collects a phenomenal amount of data from users.

Sometime around September 22nd of 2021, a user of TikTok who was working on a military installation created a video of an unknown aircraft or frame. This clip was allegedly shared with Air Combat Command Chief General Mark Kelly who reportedly spent some time studying the video. The creation of this video was considered a grievous OPSEC violation. It is believed the aircraft was US stealth technology currently undergoing testing, which was posted to the Chinese government affiliated platform. It is important to remember that the Chinese passed laws in 2017 that state, “any organization or citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work in accordance with the law.”

BeReal requests that users create a photo using both cameras on a phone simultaneously that can then be used to create a “more authentic” image of what is happening around the user. Some users refer to it as a more relaxed or “real” Instagram. However, users who deploy this application while in secure facilities or while operating around sensitive data can reveal much more than they expected.

Users of these social media applications should be educated on the danger posed by their devices and how important it is to safeguard the data that they are exposed to regularly. Providing images of secure facilities or secret tools can damage the safety and security of the nation and while the applications themselves may only be a means by which data is collected, users of these applications are often deploying them in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

It is my personal belief that most social media is dehumanizing and reduces the majority of users to an existence where nothing is real, and many users are stuck chasing unattainable goals. Fake influencer campaigns that have cost brands nearly a million dollars per incident, leaks of valuable data, and a generation of individuals who believe that the stories they see online are attainable are causing harm to the mental health and wealth of many. It may seem harmless to take detailed photos of your surroundings or to pretend to live a specific lifestyle online, but the harm to society far outweighs the benefits.

Think twice before you decide to share your information online.

Aaron Jones is a Cyber Security Instructor at the University of Advancing Technology

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