Tuesday, January 25, 2022

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Tech Talk

Don’t get Angry (Birds)


Some of you are sharing far too much information online. I’m not talking about pictures of your post-workout abs or nauseating details of your child’s bowel movements. No, this over-sharing is most likely a complete oversight on your behalf. Chances are, on a routine basis you are sharing your exact GPS location, contact list, screengrabs of your smartphone and much more. How is this happening? Through the permissions and settings you agree to while downloading smartphone applications.

The easiest way to test your online exposure is with Twitter. One feature many Twitter-users overlook is the tweet location setting, and, unless you’ve investigated the default GPS tweet setting, you’re sharing your exact location with the world. To test if you’re tweeting your whereabouts, visit your personal Twitter profile, click on one of your tweets and, if you see the word “from” below your tweet, then you’re found.

Examples like this are everywhere. The foundation of many of these issues is application permissions. Examples include the most popular mobile game, Angry Birds, which requires GPS permissions, and Facebook, which requires permission to use your camera and capture screenshots without your confirmation.

Why does a game need to know you physically are playing it? Why does a social network need to surreptitiously take photos and capture your screen? The answer to both might be as simple as helping developers better understand their users. But for some applications, the truth might be much more nefarious.

Just as personal computers need to be protected from viruses and malware, so do mobile devices. Application permissions are a mobile weakness that PCs don’t have to worry about (as much).


Only download apps from trustworthy developers with good reviews. And be sure to read the terms of what you’re allowing it to do.

Know that permissions are necessary for basically the features you use everyday. As simple as it seems to take a picture, Facebook, Instagram and others can’t do it without unencumbered permission. CV

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.

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