The Zuck might be spying on you…
What’s the Deal with WhatsApp?
Are you switching over?
In response to the attempted coup in the US earlier this month, Twitter and Facebook have taken long-overdue (but imperfect) action to deplatform accounts perpetuating misinformation or aiding domestic terror groups.
As these groups lose access or jump ship, you may have noticed that other, less militant folks are migrating from WhatsApp to Signal and Telegram. Signal active users grew from 20 million at the end of December to closer to 525 million today.
Specifically, “we may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings.”
The content of WhatsApp messages will remain encrypted, but metadata will be shared. Think of metadata as the currency of the internet. It’s why every time I scroll through one too many Martha Stewart recipes, I am targeted with engagement rings because an algorithm is building a profile of me, but missing the fact that I’m simply seeking out butter-heavy recipes.
WhatsApp terms lack transparency about where data collected about users will be used. This means it may be shared with third parties.
The question remains—if we’re all already very online does this change really matter?
The trade-off between sharing data and the convenience some platforms offer is a personal one. As companies and governments fumble towards conceptualizing and implementing platform-governance standards, users should know what they’re sharing. So should you switch to Signal? It’s up to you. At the time of writing, Signal is “experiencing technical difficulties,” which I want to believe is because people are flocking to a platform that doesn’t hoover up their metadata. But it’s likely something much more mundane.
To forgive or not to forgive student loans: THAT is the question…
What does student debt and country music have in common? Both are rampant in Canada and have the tendency to make you cry. Back when the COVID-19 pandemic started, the government of Canada went right for the throat of student loans.
For six months, repayments and interest were paused on student loans across the country. The idea was that people could not afford the cost of student loan repayments and the cost of COVID (monetarily, emotionally, or physically). From an economic point of view, it also gave people more cash to spend to boost the economy.
Almost a year later, student loans repayments have resumed with no talk of pausing them (nevermind forgiving or reducing them), despite unemployment already increasing in 2021. We also know that, as loan eligibility is determined through family and income, those currently struggling with loan repayments are more likely to belong to marginalized groups.
In 2018 and 2019, more than 356,000 Canada Student Loan Borrowers were in default. While the government made roughly $862.6 million in revenue from Canada Student Loans in 2018 through interest, they also offered corporations, small businesses, and non-profits interest free loans to “help the economy.” Trudeau even said, “We will not allow millions of people to lose their livelihoods, because of unprecedented events beyond their control.”
Yet while schools are still online, tuition has not decreased and student funding has just barely increased. So why are those of us with student loans expected to bounce back more quickly? Fortunately, the Feds have eliminated interest on federal student loans for the 2020-21 school year, which will help out 1.4 million students. But don’t get too excited, most provincial loan providers are still charging interest.
P.S. Shout out to Nova Scotia, who decided to forgive student loans in their province.
Turbulence Ahead for Air Canada…
While suspending services to tropical destinations for non-essential purposes is probably a good idea, especially considering a growing list of Canadian politicians who were caught ignoring their own advice, newly axed routes also include small urban centers and remote communities who rely on air service to connect them to the rest of Canada. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce called the latest Air Canada cuts “deeply troubling.”
“With cuts to regional air service in Atlantic Canada and across the country, the situation is much more than just an air industry issue—pockets of our country risk being disconnected from others,” said Beatty on Wednesday, calling on the government to offer additional support.
Throughout the pandemic, airlines have said that the devastating financial impact of COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on their bottom line. While they’ve been able to access the Federal wage subsidy, tourism and air carrier lobby groups have pressed the government for a comprehensive relief package. The Canadian government is considering a variety of options including interest-free loans, reductions to landing fees, and lower airport rents, but mandatory refunds have not been announced yet.
Reminiscent of the deeply controversial Wall Street bailouts of 2009, Canadians aren’t ecstatic to bail out airlines when customers still haven’t received refunds from flights last year. Passengers have filed a handful of proposed class-action lawsuits and three petitions with more than 100,000 signatures that call for customer reimbursement.