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Not all mental health apps are helpful. Experts explain the risks, and how to choose one wisely

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jeannie-marie-paterson-6367">Jeannie Marie Paterson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicholas-t-van-dam-389879">Nicholas T. Van Dam</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/piers-gooding-207492">Piers Gooding</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>There are thousands of mental health apps available on the app market, offering services including meditation, mood tracking and counselling, among others. You would think such “health” and “wellbeing” apps – which often present as solutions for conditions such as <a href="https://www.headspace.com/">anxiety</a> and <a href="https://www.calm.com">sleeplessness</a> – would have been rigorously tested and verified. But this isn’t necessarily the case.</p> <p>In fact, many may be taking your money and data in return for a service that does nothing for your mental health – at least, not in a way that’s backed by scientific evidence.</p> <h2>Bringing AI to mental health apps</h2> <p>Although some mental health apps connect users with a <a href="https://www.betterhelp.com/get-started/?go=true&amp;utm_source=AdWords&amp;utm_medium=Search_PPC_c&amp;utm_term=betterhelp+australia_e&amp;utm_content=133525856790&amp;network=g&amp;placement=&amp;target=&amp;matchtype=e&amp;utm_campaign=15228709182&amp;ad_type=text&amp;adposition=&amp;kwd_id=kwd-401317619253&amp;gclid=Cj0KCQjwoeemBhCfARIsADR2QCtfZHNw8mqpBe7cLfLtZBD-JZ5xvAmDCfol8npbAAH3ALJGYvpngtoaAtFlEALw_wcB¬_found=1&amp;gor=start">registered therapist</a>, most provide a fully automated service that bypasses the human element. This means they’re not subject to the same standards of care and confidentiality as a registered mental health professional. Some aren’t even designed by mental health professionals.</p> <p>These apps also increasingly claim to be incorporating artificial intelligence into their design to make personalised recommendations (such as for meditation or mindfulness) to users. However, they give little detail about this process. It’s possible the recommendations are based on a user’s previous activities, similar to Netflix’s <a href="https://help.netflix.com/en/node/100639">recommendation algorithm</a>.</p> <p>Some apps such as <a href="https://legal.wysa.io/privacy-policy#aiChatbot">Wysa</a>, <a href="https://www.youper.ai/">Youper</a> and <a href="https://woebothealth.com/">Woebot</a> use AI-driven chatbots to deliver support, or even established therapeutic interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy. But these apps usually don’t reveal what kinds of algorithms they use.</p> <p>It’s likely most of these AI chatbots use <a href="https://www.techtarget.com/searchenterpriseai/feature/How-to-choose-between-a-rules-based-vs-machine-learning-system">rules-based systems</a> that respond to users in accordance with predetermined rules (rather than learning on the go as adaptive models do). These rules would ideally prevent the unexpected (and often <a href="https://www.vice.com/en/article/pkadgm/man-dies-by-suicide-after-talking-with-ai-chatbot-widow-says">harmful and inappropriate</a>) outputs AI chatbots have become known for – but there’s no guarantee.</p> <p>The use of AI in this context comes with risks of biased, discriminatory or completely inapplicable information being provided to users. And these risks haven’t been adequately investigated.</p> <h2>Misleading marketing and a lack of supporting evidence</h2> <p>Mental health apps might be able to provide certain benefits to users <em>if</em> they are well designed and properly vetted and deployed. But even then they can’t be considered a substitute for professional therapy targeted towards conditions such as anxiety or depression.</p> <p>The <a href="https://theconversation.com/pixels-are-not-people-mental-health-apps-are-increasingly-popular-but-human-connection-is-still-key-192247">clinical value</a> of automated mental health and mindfulness apps is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1077722918300233?casa_token=lwm1E6FhcG0AAAAA:saV7szbZl4DqbvmZiomLG9yMWi_4-zbmy3QCtQzVEQr957QX1E7Aiqkm5BcEntR0mVFgfDVo">still being assessed</a>. Evidence of their efficacy is generally <a href="https://journals.plos.org/digitalhealth/article?id=10.1371/journal.pdig.0000002">lacking</a>.</p> <p>Some apps make ambitious claims regarding their effectiveness and refer to studies that supposedly support their benefits. In many cases these claims are based on less-than-robust findings. For instance, they may be based on:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://sensa.health/">user testimonials</a></li> <li>short-term studies with narrow <a href="https://www.wired.co.uk/article/mental-health-chatbots">or homogeneous cohorts</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9533203/">studies involving</a> researchers or funding from the very group <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/apr/13/chatbots-robot-therapists-youth-mental-health-crisis">promoting the app</a></li> <li>or evidence of the benefits of a <a href="https://www.headspace.com/meditation/anxiety">practice delivered face to face</a> (rather than via an app).</li> </ul> <p>Moreover, any claims about reducing symptoms of poor mental health aren’t carried through in contract terms. The fine print will typically state the app does not claim to provide any physical, therapeutic or medical benefit (along with a host of other disclaimers). In other words, it isn’t obliged to successfully provide the service it promotes.</p> <p>For some users, mental health apps may even cause harm, and lead to increases in the very <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34074221/">symptoms</a> people so often use them to address. The may happen, in part, as a result of creating more awareness of problems, without providing the tools needed to address them.</p> <p>In the case of most mental health apps, research on their effectiveness won’t have considered <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9505389/">individual differences</a> such as socioeconomic status, age and other factors that can influence engagement. Most apps also will not indicate whether they’re an inclusive space for marginalised people, such as those from culturally and linguistically diverse, LGBTQ+ or neurodiverse communities.</p> <h2>Inadequate privacy protections</h2> <p>Mental health apps are subject to standard consumer protection and privacy laws. While data protection and <a href="https://cybersecuritycrc.org.au/sites/default/files/2021-07/2915_cscrc_casestudies_mentalhealthapps_1.pdf">cybersecurity</a> practices vary between apps, an investigation by research foundation Mozilla <a href="https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/privacynotincluded/articles/are-mental-health-apps-better-or-worse-at-privacy-in-2023">concluded that</a> most rank poorly.</p> <p>For example, the mindfulness app <a href="https://www.headspace.com/privacy-policy">Headspace</a> collects data about users from a <a href="https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/privacynotincluded/headspace/">range of sources</a>, and uses those data to advertise to users. Chatbot-based apps also commonly repurpose conversations to predict <a href="https://legal.wysa.io/privacy-policy">users’ moods</a>, and use anonymised user data to train the language models <a href="https://www.youper.ai/policy/privacy-policy">underpinning the bots</a>.</p> <p>Many apps share so-called <a href="https://theconversation.com/popular-fertility-apps-are-engaging-in-widespread-misuse-of-data-including-on-sex-periods-and-pregnancy-202127">anonymised</a> data with <a href="https://www.wysa.com/">third parties</a>, such as <a href="https://www.headspace.com/privacy-policy">employers</a>, that sponsor their use. Re-identification of <a href="https://www.unimelb.edu.au/newsroom/news/2017/december/research-reveals-de-identified-patient-data-can-be-re-identified">these data</a> can be relatively easy in some cases.</p> <p>Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) doesn’t require most mental health and wellbeing apps to go through the same testing and monitoring as other medical products. In most cases, they are lightly regulated as <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/how-we-regulate/manufacturing/medical-devices/manufacturer-guidance-specific-types-medical-devices/regulation-software-based-medical-devices">health and lifestyle</a> products or tools for <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/sites/default/files/digital-mental-health-software-based-medical-devices.pdf">managing mental health</a> that are excluded from TGA regulations (provided they meet certain criteria).</p> <h2>How can you choose an app?</h2> <p>Although consumers can access third-party rankings for various mental health apps, these often focus on just a few elements, such as <a href="https://onemindpsyberguide.org/apps/">usability</a> or <a href="https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/privacynotincluded/categories/mental-health-apps/">privacy</a>. Different guides may also be inconsistent with each other.</p> <p>Nonetheless, there are some steps you can take to figure out whether a particular mental health or mindfulness app might be useful for you.</p> <ol> <li> <p>consult your doctor, as they may have a better understanding of the efficacy of particular apps and/or how they might benefit you as an individual</p> </li> <li> <p>check whether a mental health professional or trusted institution was involved in developing the app</p> </li> <li> <p>check if the app has been rated by a third party, and compare different ratings</p> </li> <li> <p>make use of free trials, but be careful of them shifting to paid subscriptions, and be wary about trials that require payment information upfront</p> </li> <li> <p>stop using the app if you experience any adverse effects.</p> </li> </ol> <p>Overall, and most importantly, remember that an app is never a substitute for real help from a human professional.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/211513/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jeannie-marie-paterson-6367">Jeannie Marie Paterson</a>, Professor of Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicholas-t-van-dam-389879">Nicholas T. Van Dam</a>, Associate Professor, School of Psychological Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/piers-gooding-207492">Piers Gooding</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Disability Research Initiative, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/not-all-mental-health-apps-are-helpful-experts-explain-the-risks-and-how-to-choose-one-wisely-211513">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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"You're not in labour": Expectant mum sent away from hospital gives birth at home

<p>A young mother from Ballarat, Victoria, had no choice but to give birth in the front bedroom of her home after being turned away from the maternity ward, even though she was experiencing contractions.</p> <p>Courtnie Apps, accompanied by her best friend Ashlee Meek, arrived at Ballarat Base Hospital on Monday night, enduring immense pain.</p> <p>Apps described the experience as intense and was promptly taken to the pregnancy assessment area for testing. However, medical staff concluded that her pain was likely due to a kidney infection, rather than labor.</p> <p>"They said, 'You're not in labour so this pain you're having must be from your kidney infection, which can be quite painful,'" Apps <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/ballarat-pregnant-mum-turned-away-from-hospital-despite-having-contractions/b95ffc53-1be6-41ea-9368-a105e0ba8009" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told 9News</a>.</p> <p>Disappointed and bewildered, Apps was sent home with painkillers and a strong sleeping pill.</p> <p>"We're like, 'Are we crazy? We're clearly seeing she's in labour,'" Meek stated, reflecting on their frustration.</p> <p>The pair returned home, and within an hour, Apps gave birth to her daughter, Alaida Hope.</p> <p>Meek, who has aspirations of becoming a midwife and is a nursing student with six children of her own, assisted in the delivery.</p> <p>"I had to put my hand on the baby's head to stop her from coming out too fast and doing too much damage, all while trying to dial triple zero with my other hand," Meeks recalled.</p> <p>"It was just pure luck really that nothing happened and that baby didn't need any help and that mum didn't have a serious haemorrhage."</p> <p>After the unexpected home birth, the trio was transported back to Ballarat Base Hospital in an ambulance. However, to their dismay, no one from the hospital has offered an apology thus far. Apps emphasised the importance of listening to patients saying that healthcare professionals should pay attention when patients express that something is wrong.</p> <p>When approached for a statement, a spokesperson for Grampians Health, the organisation overseeing Ballarat Base Hospital, declined to comment on Apps' case.</p> <p>The spokesperson cited patient privacy as the reason for not disclosing specific details but assured that patient safety is of utmost importance and their commitment to providing excellent care remains unwavering.</p> <p><em>Image: 9News</em></p>

Caring

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Woman matches with brother on dating app

<p dir="ltr">A woman who took the plunge and dived back into the world of dating apps, despite a series of negative experiences, has been left in shock after an unexpected match. </p> <p dir="ltr">Dani, who was using the dating app Hinge - “the app that’s designed to be deleted” - took to TikTok to share her story, telling followers she re-downloaded the app and told herself "let's get back into this.”</p> <p dir="ltr">"And I could vomit at who my most compatible was," she said before revealing a bizarre match.</p> <p dir="ltr">"So this is my brother," she explained, panning the camera back to show her brother Jordan’s profile on Hinge. </p> <p dir="ltr">"Super cute right? Yeah. It runs in the family.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Dani explained that Hinge matched her with her brother due to their “compatibility”.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I don't know if he is the one for me. I mean I guess we are compatible in the sense we share the same parents and shelter growing up and like blood and DNA and all those fun things.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Hinge was really saying to me, 'Girl, I know more for you. We're done with you. Here's your brother. Why don't you try this one out.”</p> <p dir="ltr">At the end of her video, she recommended her brother as a match to any unrelated singles. </p> <p dir="ltr">"While I go pick up my vomit that's on the floor from this, my brother's single, if any ladies out there are interested, just let me know.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The video amused fellow TikTokers, gaining a lot of traction with over 373,000 views.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Most compatible for a blood transfusion maybe," one wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr">"LMAO even Hinge was like girl there's nothing out there, have you tried your family," said another.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-db485c25-7fff-ee7a-5795-0c06895523ec"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credit: TikTok</em></p>

Family & Pets

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How to block app invites on Facebook

<p>Got that one annoying Facebook friend who keeps inviting you to play Candy Crush? And no matter how many times you tell them you want nothing to do with their quest for candy, the invites keeps coming in? Here’s what you can do to put a stop to it (and keep the friendship intact):</p> <p><strong>Blocking an app or game</strong></p> <p>When you block an app or game, it won't be able to access any of your Facebook information or send you any requests. If you no longer want an app or game to contact you, please remove it.</p> <ol> <li>Click the downward arrow icon on the top right of your Facebook page. Select Settings.</li> <li>Click Blocking, located in the left column.</li> <li>In the Block apps section, type the name of the app or game you want to block.</li> </ol> <p>If you ever want to unblock the app or game, click “Unblock” next to the app name.</p> <p><strong>Blocking a specific friend’s invitations</strong></p> <p>If you have a Facebook friend that invites you to so many different games and apps that you’ve often wondered if they spend their entire life on Facebook, you have the option to block all invites from a particular Facebook friend. This automatically ignores all future invites from all games and apps sent by the person.</p> <ol> <li>Click the downward arrow icon on the top right of your Facebook page. Select Settings.</li> <li>Click Blocking, located in the left column.</li> <li>In the Block app invites section, type the name of the friend you want to block invites from.</li> </ol> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Technology

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The exclusive dating app for celebrities and influencers

<p>In 2020, Sharon Stone <a href="https://www.nme.com/news/film/sharon-stones-bumble-dating-profile-has-finally-been-restored-2607744" target="_blank" rel="noopener">tweeted</a> that her Bumble dating profile had been closed due to users reporting the account as fake. In less than 24 hours, Bumble had restored her account and apologised for the misunderstanding.</p> <p>You might be forgiven for thinking the Basic Instinct star couldn’t possibly be looking for love on a mainstream dating app like Bumble. It’s not every day that you swipe left to discover the next profile to be a Hollywood celebrity.</p> <p>However it would appear celebrities, are just like the rest of us. Looking for love or intimacy in a world where the face-to-face meetings are no longer commonplace. Unlike Sharon Stone, instead of using Bumble, the majority use their own special dating app called <a href="https://www.rayatheapp.com/">Raya</a>.</p> <p>A membership to this invite-only dating app is as exclusive as you would expect, with only a small number of elite applicants accepted on the app ⁠– which means your chances of charming and dating someone rich and famous on Tinder (insert shocked emoji) just got even slimmer.</p> <h2>What is Raya?</h2> <p>Launched in 2015, Raya, prides itself on being “an exclusive dating and networking platform for people in creative industries.”</p> <p>Cara Delevingne, Ruby Rose, Alexander Wang, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Teri Hatcher, Elijah Wood, and Zach Braff are among the elite crew <a href="https://thelatch.com.au/what-is-raya-secret-dating-app-for-celebrities/#:%7E:text=A%20year%20on%20from%20Raya's,were%20among%20the%20elite%20crew." target="_blank" rel="noopener">rumoured</a> to be on the dating app. Demi Lovato has been a longtime user of online relationship sites. She revealed in her documentary, Simply Complicated, that she chose Raya after her split from Wilmer Valderrama in 2016. Most recently Lily Allen and David Harbour credited their meeting to Raya.</p> <p>Before you think about sneaking onto the platform sometimes known as the “Tinder Illuminati” of the dating-app-world, there’s a complex application process – which includes being referred by three people, and then being vetted by an unknown panel of judges. Rumour has it, Raya has over<a href="https://www.newyorker.com/culture/infinite-scroll/raya-and-the-promise-of-private-social-media" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> ten times</a> more people waiting to get on the app – than those currently on it.</p> <p>The New York Times reports only about <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/27/style/raya-dating-app.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">8% of applications are accepted</a>, meaning Raya has a higher rejection rate than the illustrious Harvard Business School.</p> <p>You’ll also need to pay for it it, with a conservative fee of AU $9.99 a month, and further in app purchases (for example, extra swipes - once you’ve swiped on a certain number of profiles, Raya temporarily stops showing you new profiles unless you choose to pay a small fee of $4.99) required. Promotional material indicates: “Raya’s primary goal is for like-minded people to have an easy, accessible, and comfortable platform on which to connect.”</p> <p>The applications are “reviewed by an anonymous global committee” to “maintain that ideal.”</p> <h2>How to find love on Raya</h2> <p>My research examines how and if dating apps have changed intimacy, sex and romantic relationships. How does love change as a result of a digital sieve? However, it’s difficult to locate Raya users to provide their testimonies on their exclusive experiences.</p> <p>Most B grade users, that is, non-celebrities and non-influencers, report that the app is overwhelming, and doesn’t deliver matches. In simple terms if you’re not an A grade celebrity, you simply don’t have the celebrity pull to get the matches.</p> <p>Insiders indicate that the app is awash with professional photos, where the majority of users look like models. On ordinary apps, such profiles are usually rejected as potentially fake profiles or as bots.</p> <p>The profiles are shown in slideshow format, with users picking a song to play their slideshow to. All profiles include the person’s Instagram handle, so if you did really like the look of someone and wanted to make sure you did connect with them, you could add them on Instagram. In addition, screenshots, are not allowed within these hallowed halls.</p> <p>From 40 people interviewed in Australia, only 2 had used Raya. Those interviewed described the app as a “waste of time”, indicating that while there was a plethora of recognisable talent on the app, the majority fell into the influencer category - and their strike/ or match rate was low if not non-existent.</p> <h2>Celebrities and creatives</h2> <p>The app does raise a pertinent question around what we consider to be the creative industries in today’s society - and whether this terminology expands out to influencers or for example, OnlyFans content creators, and how we tier celebrities, and creatives.</p> <p>Dating apps also tend to open a pandora’s box of judgemental behaviours. My research would indicate that the majority of users make split-second decisions mostly based on appearance, but also tend to continue this hypercritical behaviour as they discontinue direct message exchanges, and ultimately people.</p> <p>Mainstream dating apps are highly white domains, <a href="https://www.npr.org/2018/01/09/575352051/least-desirable-how-racial-discrimination-plays-out-in-online-dating" target="_blank" rel="noopener">with sexual racism proliferating</a>, occurring in overt (for example, the common “No Asians” <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-03-06/sexual-racism-on-dating-apps-in-australia/100872332" target="_blank" rel="noopener">bio descriptions</a>), to more covert behaviours such swiping left against ethnically diverse people.</p> <p>They encourage a <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/02/modern-dating-odds-economy-apps-tinder-math/606982/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">highly visual economy</a>, where individuals are often reduced to a hot or not factor. Most of the participants in my focus groups and interviews felt like they had become more judgemental as a result of their dating app use – quickly rejecting punters who were not arbitrarily attractive.</p> <p>Apps like Raya, while claiming to pool together like-minded people instead tend to extend and reinforce the idea that modern-day-love, categorised by the dating app, is only eligible for a certain hallowed few arbitrarily good-looking people, with solid Instagram, or Only Fans followings. Simultaneously, they warp the idea of the creative industries and creative people.</p> <p>Raya opens up the promise of a private dating space in an online environment. However, in doing so it creates a digital culture where intimacy is limited to an elite group of people, no longer open to the masses.</p> <p>As platforms like Tinder <a href="https://www.choice.com.au/consumer-advocacy/policy-submissions/2020/august/complaint-to-the-accc-about-tinder-misuse-of-data-and-discriminatory-pricing" target="_blank" rel="noopener">undergo scrutiny </a>around pricing structures and safety, the future could entail a plethora of Rayas – defined by the attributes (and payment) of their community members. Importantly, keeping the undesirables at bay.</p> <p>But in doing so are we further creating a world of intimacy haves and have-nots?</p> <p>While a select few might be enjoying the sanctity of private and exclusive dating - the rest of us have been locked outside, left to navigate the wild-west of the digital dating world.</p> <p><strong>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-exclusive-dating-app-for-celebrities-and-influencers-why-raya-has-been-called-the-illuminati-of-the-tinder-world-186828" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </strong></p> <p><em>Image: Raya</em></p>

Relationships

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Instagram and Facebook are stalking you on websites accessed through their apps. What can you do about it?

<p>Social media platforms have had some bad <a href="https://theconversation.com/concerns-over-tiktok-feeding-user-data-to-beijing-are-back-and-theres-good-evidence-to-support-them-186211" target="_blank" rel="noopener">press</a> in recent times, largely prompted by the vast extent of their data collection. Now Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has upped the ante.</p> <p>Not content with following every move you make on its apps, Meta has reportedly devised a way to also know everything you do in external websites accessed <em>through</em> its apps. Why is it going to such lengths? And is there a way to avoid this surveillance?</p> <p><strong>‘Injecting’ code to follow you</strong></p> <p>Meta has a custom in-app browser that operates on Facebook, Instagram and any website you might click through to from both these apps.</p> <p>Now ex-Google engineer and privacy researcher Felix Krause has discovered this proprietary browser has additional program code inserted into it. Krause developed a tool that <a href="https://krausefx.com/blog/ios-privacy-instagram-and-facebook-can-track-anything-you-do-on-any-website-in-their-in-app-browser?utm_source=tldrnewsletter" target="_blank" rel="noopener">found</a> Instagram and Facebook added up to 18 lines of code to websites visited through Meta’s in-app browsers.</p> <p>This “code injection” enables user tracking and overrides tracking restrictions that browsers such as Chrome and Safari have in place. It allows Meta to collect sensitive user information, including “every button and link tapped, text selections, screenshots, as well as any form inputs, like passwords, addresses and credit card numbers”.</p> <p>Krause published his <a href="https://krausefx.com/blog/ios-privacy-instagram-and-facebook-can-track-anything-you-do-on-any-website-in-their-in-app-browser?utm_source=tldrnewsletter" target="_blank" rel="noopener">findings</a> online on August 10, including samples of the <a href="https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/pcm.js" target="_blank" rel="noopener">actual code</a>.</p> <p>In response, Meta has said it isn’t doing anything users didn’t consent to. A Meta spokesperson said:</p> <blockquote> <p>We intentionally developed this code to honour people’s [Ask to track] choices on our platforms […] The code allows us to aggregate user data before using it for targeted advertising or measurement purposes.</p> </blockquote> <p>The “code” mentioned in the case is <a href="https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/pcm.js" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pcm.js</a> – a script that acts to aggregate a user’s browsing activities. Meta says the script is inserted based on whether users have given consent – and information gained is used only for advertising purposes.</p> <p>So is it acting ethically? Well, the company has done due diligence by informing users of its intention to collect <a href="https://www.facebook.com/privacy/policy" target="_blank" rel="noopener">an expanded range</a> of data. However, it stopped short of making clear what the full implications of doing so would be.</p> <p>People might give their consent to tracking in a more general sense, but “informed” consent implies full knowledge of the possible consequences. And, in this case, users were not explicitly made aware their activities on other sites could be followed through a code injection.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Facebook reached out to me, saying the system they’ve built honours the user’s ATT choice. </p> <p>However, this doesn’t change anything about my publication: The Instagram iOS app is actively injecting JavaScript code into all third party websites rendered via their in-app browser. <a href="https://t.co/9h0PIoIOSS">pic.twitter.com/9h0PIoIOSS</a></p> <p>— Felix Krause (@KrauseFx) <a href="https://twitter.com/KrauseFx/status/1557777320546635776?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 11, 2022</a></p></blockquote> <p><strong>Why is Meta doing this?</strong></p> <p>Data are the central commodity of Meta’s business model. There is astronomical value in the amount of data Meta can collect by injecting a tracking code into third-party websites opened through the Instagram and Facebook apps.</p> <p>At the same time, Meta’s business model is being threatened – and events from the recent past can help shed light on why it’s doing this in the first place.</p> <p>It boils down to the fact that Apple (which owns the Safari browser), Google (which owns Chrome) and the Firefox browser are all actively placing restrictions on Meta’s ability to collect data.</p> <p>Last year, Apple’s iOS 14.5 update came alongside a <a href="https://www.apple.com/au/privacy/control/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">requirement</a> that all apps hosted on the Apple app store must get users’ explicit permission to track and collect their data across apps owned by other companies.</p> <p>Meta has <a href="https://krausefx.com/blog/ios-privacy-instagram-and-facebook-can-track-anything-you-do-on-any-website-in-their-in-app-browser?utm_source=tldrnewsletter" target="_blank" rel="noopener">publicly</a> said this single iPhone alert is costing its Facebook business US$10 billion each year.</p> <p>Apple’s Safari browser also applies a default setting to block all third-party “cookies”. These are little chunks of <a href="https://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/us/security/definition/cookies" target="_blank" rel="noopener">tracking code</a> that websites deposit on your computer and which tell the website’s owner about your visit to the site.</p> <p>Google will also soon be phasing out third-party cookies. And Firefox recently announced “total cookie protection” to prevent so-called cross-page tracking.</p> <p>In other words, Meta is being flanked by browsers introducing restrictions on extensive user data tracking. Its response was to create its own browser that circumvents these restrictions.</p> <p><strong>How can I protect myself?</strong></p> <p>On the bright side, users concerned about privacy do have some options.</p> <p>The easiest way to stop Meta tracking your external activities through its in-app browser is to simply not use it; make sure you’re opening web pages in a trusted browser of choice such as Safari, Chrome or Firefox (via the screen shown below).</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/478879/original/file-20220812-20-6je7m8.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/478879/original/file-20220812-20-6je7m8.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=548&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/478879/original/file-20220812-20-6je7m8.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=548&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/478879/original/file-20220812-20-6je7m8.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=548&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/478879/original/file-20220812-20-6je7m8.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=689&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/478879/original/file-20220812-20-6je7m8.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=689&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/478879/original/file-20220812-20-6je7m8.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=689&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></p> <p><em><span class="caption" style="color: #999999; text-align: center;">Click ‘open in browser’ to open a website in a trusted browser such as Safari.</span><span style="color: #999999; text-align: center;"> </span><span class="attribution" style="color: #999999; text-align: center;">screenshot</span></em></p> <figure class="align-right "><figcaption></figcaption></figure> <p>If you can’t find this screen option, you can manually copy and paste the web address into a trusted browser.</p> <p>Another option is to access the social media platforms via a browser. So instead of using the Instagram or Facebook app, visit the sites by entering their URL into your trusted browser’s search bar. This should also solve the tracking problem.</p> <p>I’m not suggesting you ditch Facebook or Instagram altogether. But we should all be aware of how our online movements and usage patterns may be carefully recorded and used in ways we’re not told about. Remember: on the internet, if the service is free, you’re probably the product. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/188645/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-tuffley-13731" target="_blank" rel="noopener">David Tuffley</a>, Senior Lecturer in Applied Ethics &amp; CyberSecurity, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Griffith University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/instagram-and-facebook-are-stalking-you-on-websites-accessed-through-their-apps-what-can-you-do-about-it-188645" target="_blank" rel="noopener">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Technology

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3 apps that will make you a wine connoisseur

<p>Whether you fancy yourself a little bit of a wine connoisseur, a novice who just enjoys a pinot with some cheese or a epicurean searching for the perfect wine to complement the menu for your dinner guests, there is a wine app for you.</p> <p><strong>1. Wine Events </strong></p> <p><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/wine-events/id352070012?mt=8" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Free; iPhone, iPad</strong></span></a></p> <p>Brushing up on your wine knowledge is one thing but going out to sample some wines is another thing completely. Luckily, this app has already done all the research and lists major events happening near you. So whether you are in the Napa Valley, Melbourne, Sydney or London, you will find a plethora of public tastings, open cellar doors and master classes right on your doorstep.</p> <p><strong>2. Selecting a Wine for Dummies</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://au.dummies.com/store/product/Selecting-a-Wine-For-Dummies-App.productCd-WS100044.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Free; iPhone, iPad, Android</a></strong></span></p> <p>Based on a book from the eponymous series, this is the perfect app for those who don't know their chardonnay from their sauvignon blanc. With a glossary, suggested serving temps, pairing ideas and even an audio pronunciation helper, Selecting a Wine for Dummies is almost like having the book in a condensed app. From brushing up on your knowledge of the world's great wine regions to using the food and wine pairing tool to enhance your dining experience, our favourite tool is being able to create an ideal wine list by snapping photos of our favourite bottles.</p> <p><strong>3. Approach Guides Wine</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/ag-wine-guide-by-approach/id360561636?mt=8" target="_blank" rel="noopener">$3.79; iPhone, iPad</a></strong></span></p> <p>Featuring many Australian wines, this app is sure to appeal to everyone from the novice through to the more discerning wine aficionado. With comprehensive notes on specific wine areas and a vintage guide, you can search for a wine by preferred style, grape variety or appellation. AG aims to offer you a wide selection of wines before suggesting food and wine matches. But as it says, in the end it is really up to you to choose what gets your taste buds singing.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Food & Wine

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This single spending habit could threaten your savings

<p dir="ltr">As inflation rates hit record highs - at 7.75 percent for Australia and 7.3 percent for New Zealand - many are finding their savings are taking a hit under the soaring cost of living.</p> <p dir="ltr">But it isn’t just rising fuel and food prices you need to worry about, according to ANZ Plus team member Danielle Curry.</p> <p dir="ltr">In fact, there’s one commonly forgotten expense that’s making staying on top of our finances even trickier: phone apps.</p> <p dir="ltr">Apps like Uber Eats, Afterpay services, and those for your favourite stores, along with “must-have” shopping trends are making it so that mobile apps are driving our desire to spend money easily and beyond our means.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to new research from ANZ Plus, over recent years Aussies have consistently “overspent” the most on eating out and takeaway, with 53 percent noting that their top expenses were food-related.</p> <p dir="ltr">“There’s this real immediacy of spending that is becoming very normal for Australians,” Ms Curry told <em><a href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/money/budgeting/out-of-control-the-spending-habit-threatening-your-savings/news-story/f38d98db818c8f01191a4069106eb6af" target="_blank" rel="noopener">news.com.au</a></em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">“And especially during the pandemic, we saw a lot of restaurants convert to home delivery services so people were still ‘eating out’ but just a bit differently.”</p> <p dir="ltr">A noticeable surge in online shopping and subscribing to streaming services also coincided with thousands starting to work from home during pandemic-induced lockdowns, accounting for Aussies’ overspending by 35 percent and 19 percent respectively.</p> <p dir="ltr">“And with the advent of things like buy now, pay later services it has really allowed that real immediacy of spending,” Ms Curry added.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Twenty years ago you couldn’t order something from Amazon and have it arrive the next day … so if you’re not tracking your expenses, are you really sure exactly how much you’re spending on things like Amazon?”</p> <p dir="ltr">Ms Curry said one of the most concerning findings from the research was that a third of Ausies struggle to manage their finances, with 1.5 million of those surveyed admitting they “don’t feel in control of their money at all”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Though data from Westpac suggests that the average Australian has around $22,000 in savings, big savers that skew the data means that a more realistic figure is closer to $3500.</p> <p dir="ltr">In response to skyrocketing electricity bills and other living expenses, many have chosen to cut down on “unnecessary expenses” and try to save any way they can.</p> <p dir="ltr">Ms Curry said that even though most are trying to make ends meet, poor budgeting skills could leave many blindsided.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We know that a lot of people don’t feel in control and it’s because they don’t have the knowledge about their own finances,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“But the first thing to understand is that it’s going to be different for every single Australian … and it’s important that everyone understands their own situation.</p> <p dir="ltr">“(It’s different) for some who might be financially struggling to make ends meet has to make choices between food and the electricity bill versus someone who is financially comfortable and is quite able to make a luxury purchase.”</p> <p dir="ltr">But, there are some ways we can take back control of our finances, such as tagging and categorising your spending through your banking app.</p> <p dir="ltr">This can help you identify “unnecessary” or passive purchases that can be stopped, such as forgotten subscriptions.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Everyone is at a different stage in their lives and make custom everyday expenses,” Ms Perez said. </p> <p dir="ltr">“(But) once we can really understand what we’re doing with that money we can see if there are trade-offs … to find that extra five dollars to add towards our savings.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Digital budgeting apps and tracking tools, including those offered in banking apps can also help you set up savings goals, a budget, and a savings buffer based on your financial situation.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Using these kinds of nifty features that we’ve got around expense categorisation and setting up savings goals, really help push your finances to the next level,” Ms Curry said.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-587d039a-7fff-d6bb-bc0c-b218a9d62332"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Even if TikTok and other apps are collecting your data, what are the actual consequences?

<p>By now, most of us are aware social media companies collect vast amounts of our information. By doing this, they can target us with ads and monetise our attention. The latest chapter in the data-privacy debate concerns one of the world’s most popular apps among young people – TikTok.</p> <p>Yet anecdotally it seems the potential risks aren’t really something young people care about. Some were <a href="https://twitter.com/theprojecttv/status/1548962230741487617">interviewed</a> by The Project this week regarding the risk of their TikTok data being accessed from China.</p> <p>They said it wouldn’t stop them using the app. “Everyone at the moment has access to everything,” one person said. Another said they didn’t “have much to hide from the Chinese government”.</p> <p>Are these fair assessments? Or should Australians actually be worried about yet another social media company taking their data?</p> <p><strong>What’s happening with TikTok?</strong></p> <p>In a 2020 Australian parliamentary hearing on foreign interference through social media, TikTok representatives <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Hansard/Hansard_Display?bid=committees/commsen/1a5e6393-fec4-4222-945b-859e3f8ebd17/&amp;sid=0002">stressed</a>: “TikTok Australia data is stored in the US and Singapore, and the security and privacy of this data are our highest priority.”</p> <p>But as Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) analyst Fergus Ryan has <a href="https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/its-time-tiktok-australia-came-clean/">observed</a>, it’s not about where the data are <em>stored</em>, but who has <em>access</em>.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">'Where the data is stored is really immaterial if the data can be accessed from Beijing at any point, and that's what we have known for a couple of years' | <a href="https://twitter.com/ASPI_ICPC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ASPI_ICPC</a>'s <a href="https://twitter.com/fryan?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@fryan</a> spoke to <a href="https://twitter.com/abcnews?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@abcnews</a> about Tik Tok &amp; data security </p> <p>📺 Watch the interview: <a href="https://t.co/iKIXqj2Rt2">https://t.co/iKIXqj2Rt2</a></p> <p>— ASPI (@ASPI_org) <a href="https://twitter.com/ASPI_org/status/1549185634837102592?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 19, 2022</a></p></blockquote> <p>On June 17, BuzzFeed published a <a href="https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/emilybakerwhite/tiktok-tapes-us-user-data-china-bytedance-access">report</a> based on 80 leaked internal TikTok meetings which seemed to confirm access to US TikTok data by Chinese actors. The report refers to multiple examples of data access by TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, which is based in China.</p> <p>Then in July, TikTok Australia’s director of public policy, Brent Thomas, wrote to the shadow minister for cyber security, James Paterson, regarding China’s access to Australian user data.</p> <p>Thomas denied having been asked for data from China or having “given data to the Chinese government” – but he also noted access is “based on the need to access data”. So there’s good reason to believe Australian users’ data <em>may</em> be accessed from China.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">TikTok Australia has replied to my letter and admitted that Australian user data is also accessible in mainland China, putting it within reach of the Chinese government, despite their previous assurances it was safe because it was stored in the US and Singapore <a href="https://t.co/ITY1HNEo6v">pic.twitter.com/ITY1HNEo6v</a></p> <p>— James Paterson (@SenPaterson) <a href="https://twitter.com/SenPaterson/status/1546957121274621952?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 12, 2022</a></p></blockquote> <p><strong>Is TikTok worse than other platforms?</strong></p> <p>TikTok collects rich consumer information, including personal information and behavioural data from people’s activity on the app. In this respect, it’s not different from other social media companies.</p> <p>They all need oceans of user data to push ads onto us, and run data analytics behind a shiny facade of cute cats and trendy dances.</p> <p>However, TikTok’s corporate roots extend to authoritarian China – and not the US, where most of our other social media come from. This carries implications for TikTok users.</p> <p>Hypothetically, since TikTok moderates content according to Beijing’s foreign policy goals, it’s possible TikTok could apply censorship controls over Australian users.</p> <p>This means users’ feeds would be filtered to omit anything that doesn’t fit the Chinese government’s agenda, such as support for Taiwan’s sovereignty, as an example. In “shadowbanning”, a user’s posts appear to have been published to the user themselves, but are not visible to anyone else.</p> <p>It’s worth noting this censorship risk isn’t hypothetical. In 2019, information about Hong Kong protests was reported to have been <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/sep/25/revealed-how-tiktok-censors-videos-that-do-not-please-beijing">censored</a> not only on Douyin, China’s domestic version of TikTok, but also on TikTok itself.</p> <p>Then in 2020, ASPI <a href="https://www.aspi.org.au/report/tiktok-wechat">found</a> hashtags related to LGBTQ+ are suppressed in at least eight languages on TikTok. In response to ASPI’s research, a TikTok spokesperson said the hashtags may be restricted as part of the company’s localisation strategy and due to local laws.</p> <p>In Thailand, keywords such as #acab, #gayArab and anti-monarchy hashtags were found to be shadowbanned.</p> <p>Within China, Douyin complies with strict national content regulation. This includes censoring information about the religious movement Falun Gong and the Tiananmen massacre, among other examples.</p> <p>The legal environment in China forces Chinese internet product and service providers to work with government authorities. If Chinese companies disagree, or are unaware of their obligations, they can be slapped with legal and/or financial penalties and be forcefully shut down.</p> <p>In 2012, another social media product run by the founder of ByteDance, Yiming Zhang, was forced to close. Zhang fell into political line in a <a href="https://chinamediaproject.org/2018/04/11/tech-shame-in-the-new-era/">public apology</a>. He acknowledged the platform deviated from “public opinion guidance” by not moderating content that goes against “socialist core values”.</p> <p>Individual TikTok users should seriously consider leaving the app until issues of global censorship are clearly addressed.</p> <p><strong>But don’t forget, it’s not just TikTok</strong></p> <p>Meta products, such as Facebook and Instagram, also measure our interests by the seconds we spend looking at certain posts. They aggregate those behavioural data with our personal information to try to keep us hooked – looking at ads for as long as possible.</p> <p><a href="https://www.aclu.org/news/privacy-technology/holding-facebook-accountable-for-digital-redlining">Some real cases</a> of targeted advertising on social media have contributed to “digital redlining” – the use of technology to perpetuate social discrimination.</p> <p>In 2018, Facebook came under fire for showing some employment ads only to men. In 2019, it settled another digital redlining <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/mar/28/facebook-ads-housing-discrimination-charges-us-government-hud">case</a> over discriminatory practices in which housing ads were targeted to certain users on the basis of “race, colour, national origin and religion”.</p> <p>And in 2021, before the US Capitol breach, military and defence product ads <a href="https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanmac/facebook-profits-military-gear-ads-capitol-riot">were running</a> alongside conversations about a coup.</p> <p>Then there are some worst-case scenarios. The 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/us/politics/cambridge-analytica-scandal-fallout.html">revealed</a> how Meta (then Facebook) exposed users’ data to the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica without their consent.</p> <p>Cambridge Analytica harvested up to 87 million users’ data from Facebook, derived psychological user profiles and used these to tailor pro-Trump messaging to them. This likely had an influence on the 2016 US presidential election.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/475064/original/file-20220720-19-dzfe0b.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/475064/original/file-20220720-19-dzfe0b.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/475064/original/file-20220720-19-dzfe0b.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/475064/original/file-20220720-19-dzfe0b.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/475064/original/file-20220720-19-dzfe0b.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/475064/original/file-20220720-19-dzfe0b.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/475064/original/file-20220720-19-dzfe0b.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/475064/original/file-20220720-19-dzfe0b.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="A phone shows a TikTok video playing on the screen, with a person mid-dance." /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">To what extent are we willing to ignore potential risks with social platforms, in favour of addictive content?</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>With TikTok, the most immediate concern for the average Australian user is content censorship – not direct prosecution. But within China, there are recurring instances of Chinese nationals being <a href="https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/3176605/crackdown-chinas-moderate-rights-voices-how-tweets-are-now">detained or even jailed</a> for using both Chinese and international social media.</p> <p>You can see how the consequences of mass data harvesting are not hypothetical. We need to demand more transparency from not just TikTok but all major social platforms regarding how data are used.</p> <p>Let’s continue the <a href="https://www.afr.com/policy/foreign-affairs/tiktok-s-privacy-fundamentally-incompatible-with-australia-20220713-p5b18l">regulation debate</a> TikTok has accelerated. We should look to update privacy protections and embed transparency into Australia’s national regulatory guidelines – for whatever the next big social media app happens to be.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/187277/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ausma-bernot-963292" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Ausma Bernot</a>, PhD Candidate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Griffith University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/even-if-tiktok-and-other-apps-are-collecting-your-data-what-are-the-actual-consequences-187277" target="_blank" rel="noopener">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Technology

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How effective is mindfulness for treating mental ill-health? And what about the apps?

<p>Mindfulness forms part of the <a href="https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/consumer-packaged-goods/our-insights/feeling-good-the-future-of-the-1-5-trillion-wellness-market">trillion-dollar wellness industry</a>, representing 1.5–6% of yearly spending around the world (estimated to be more than <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2020/01/30/top-10-meditation-apps-pulled-in-195m-in-2019-up-52-from-2018/">US$200 million</a>) on wellness products and services. </p> <p>Smartphone apps, in particular, have skyrocketed in popularity offering incredible promise for mental health with wide reach, and scalability at low cost. Mental ill-health was <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30869927/">on the rise</a> before the pandemic but reached <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2215036620303072">new heights</a>during it. Correspondingly, COVID created <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/04/21/meditation-up-during-coronavirus/">previously unseen</a> demand for mindfulness apps and <a href="https://news.usc.edu/168467/demand-for-uscs-free-mindfulness-classes-skyrockets-during-covid-19-pandemic/">online courses</a>.</p> <p>It’s no surprise people have turned to mindfulness in the wake of the past few stressful years, and their considerable promotion. And while there may be some benefit, it cannot treat mental ill-health on its own, and should not be relied upon to do so.</p> <h2>What does research say about mindfulness for treating mental health?</h2> <p>In-person mindfulness-based programs such as those for stress reduction, which often include health information and guided meditation practice, show moderate benefits among healthy individuals and those with mental ill-health.</p> <p>Among healthy populations, <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003481">a comprehensive review</a> shows mindfulness-based programs help most with symptoms of anxiety, depression, and distress, and to a slightly lesser extent, in promoting well-being. </p> <p>Among individuals with a psychiatric diagnosis, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272735817303847">a comprehensive review</a> shows mindfulness-based programs can help with anxious and depressive disorders, as well as pain conditions and substance use disorders. But mindfulness-based programs do not outperform standard talk therapy. </p> <p>When it comes to structured online mindfulness programs (digital variations on programs like mindfulness-based stress reduction), a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272735815300623">review</a> shows benefits are small but still significant for depression, anxiety, and well-being.</p> <h2>What about mindfulness apps?</h2> <p>The evidence for mobile phone interventions and apps is less positive. </p> <p>A recent <a href="https://journals.plos.org/digitalhealth/article?id=10.1371/journal.pdig.0000002">comprehensive review</a> of mobile phone interventions (including apps) combined results from 145 randomised controlled trials of 47,940 participants. The study examined text messaging interventions and apps for a number of mental health conditions relative to no intervention, minimal intervention (such as health information), and active interventions (other programs known to work). The authors “failed to find convincing evidence in support of any mobile phone-based intervention on any outcome”. </p> <p>One <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032720328317?via%3Dihub">review</a> of mindfulness apps, included in the above comprehensive review, found well-designed randomised controlled trials for only 15 of the hundreds of apps available. Overall results were small to moderate for anxiety, depression, stress, and well-being. While these results sound positive, most studies (about 55%) compared apps to doing nothing at all, while another 20% compared apps to controls like audiobooks, games, relaxing music, or maths training. </p> <p>When apps are compared to well-designed treatments, the effects are often less promising. <a href="https://bmcpsychology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40359-018-0226-3">One study</a> comparing a mindfulness app to a “sham” (something that looked and felt like mindfulness but was not), the app was no better.</p> <h2>But does it do any harm?</h2> <p>Evidence shows mindfulness meditation can actually make some people worse off. </p> <p>A recent <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/acps.13225">meta-analysis</a> that examined 83 studies on meditation, including 6,703 particpants, found 8.3% of people became anxious, depressed, or experienced negative changes in their thinking during or after meditation practice.</p> <p>Other <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10503307.2021.1933646?journalCode=tpsr20">research suggests</a> those first exposed to meditation via an app may be more likely to experience adverse effects such as anxiety, depression, or worse. </p> <p>While apps and other forms of meditation are relatively inexpensive, if they do not work, the return on investment is poor. While the costs may seem relatively small, they can represent significant costs to individuals, organisations, and government. And some learning modules and training programs cost <a href="https://beyou.edu.au/resources/programs-directory/s/smiling-mind-school-program">thousands of dollars</a>.</p> <h2>Mindfulness should be used ‘as well as’, not ‘instead of’</h2> <p>The investment in these programs is not a problem on its own. Mindfulness meditation (including various digital offerings) has considerable <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8083197/">potential</a>. The problem is mindfulness is not enough, and should be used as a supplement to first-line mental health treatment such as psychotherapy and medication, not instead of first-line treatment. </p> <p>More concerning is that some mindfulness apps claim they can prevent mental health problems. There is not enough evidence yet to be able to make these claims.</p> <p>In a world where people are facing so many challenges spanning social and income inequality, unprecedented environmental changes, war, economic instability, and global pandemics (to name a few), we must choose support programs very carefully. </p> <p>While mindfulness may have some benefits for some people, it is not a replacement for first-line treatments for mental ill-health.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-effective-is-mindfulness-for-treating-mental-ill-health-and-what-about-the-apps-182436" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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Online dating fatigue – why some people are turning to face-to-face apps first

<p>For the last two-plus years, people hoping to meet their soulmate in person have had a rough time. Lockdowns and uncertainty about social gatherings have led many people to turn to dating apps. People who feel they have lost months or years of their dating life may be eager to avoid the perils of dating apps – <a href="https://theconversation.com/from-ghosting-to-backburner-relationships-the-reasons-people-behave-so-badly-on-dating-apps-179600" target="_blank" rel="noopener">ghosting, backburner relationships</a>, or just wasting time chatting with the wrong people.</p> <p>People are eager to meet in person, and the menu of dating apps is expanding to accommodate this. In addition to the likes of Tinder, Hinge and Bumble, there are apps that focus on bringing people together in person.</p> <p>One of these is an <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/01/07/thursday-dating-hit-millennials-suffering-app-fatigue/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">increasingly popular</a> app called Thursday. It is live just once a week (on Thursdays) and gives users just 24 hours to arrange a date. This cuts down on the onerous swiping and messaging throughout the week and possibly prevents people using the app simply for validation or amusement. Thursday also hosts in-person events where attendees might meet someone without swiping at all.</p> <p>There are a few reasons in-person dating may be more appealing to some people than dating apps. The information we glean from online profiles gives us little to go on. Meeting in person results in a far richer and more detailed impression of a date than meeting online, where all we see is a photo and, usually, a brief bio. Also, 45% of current or previous users of dating apps or sites reported that the experience left them <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/ft_2020-02-06_datingtakeaways_02" target="_blank" rel="noopener">feeling frustrated</a>.</p> <p>Online dating matches us to people we don’t know, making it easy for <a href="https://theconversation.com/first-the-love-bomb-then-the-financial-emergency-5-tactics-of-tinder-swindlers-176807" target="_blank" rel="noopener">scammers to take advantage of them</a>. Apart from this, users often misrepresent themselves, resulting in disappointment when daters meet face to face.</p> <p>While online dating appears to offer an abundance of choice, <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15213269.2015.1121827?cookieSet=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">research suggests</a> that we make poorer decisions online about dating choice. We use simpler methods when choosing from a large array of potential suitors than when we choose on a one-to-one basis in person. This is often referred to as the paradox of choice.</p> <h2>Are dating apps dead?</h2> <p>Dating apps have undisputedly had a huge impact on how couples meet. In the US, <a href="https://news.stanford.edu/2019/08/21/online-dating-popular-way-u-s-couples-meet/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">meeting online is the most popular</a> way that couples meet, and the number has increased in recent years.</p> <p>Part of the appeal of apps is their simplicity: you can create a profile and start matching with people in a matter of minutes. Despite this, using dating apps does take time and effort. A large survey by <a href="https://www.bustle.com/p/millennials-spend-average-of-10-hours-a-week-on-dating-apps-survey-finds-but-heres-what-experts-actually-recommend-8066805" target="_blank" rel="noopener">dating app Badoo found</a> that millennials spend on average 90 minutes a day looking for a date, by swiping, liking, matching and chatting.</p> <p>Often, messages by one party go unanswered by the other, and even if there is a response, the chatting may never result in meeting in person. In 2016, Hinge’s data found that only <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/soloish/wp/2016/10/03/why-is-the-dating-app-hinge-bashing-swipe-apps/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">one in 500 swipes</a> resulted in phone numbers being exchanged.</p> <p>This onerous process may lead to online dating fatigue for some. If we get no positive matches from our seemingly endless swiping, or we receive no response to our messages, our online dating efforts will eventually fizzle out.</p> <p>Traditional dating apps are still incredibly popular, especially among young people. As of 2021, Tinder has been <a href="https://www.tinderpressroom.com/news?item=122515" target="_blank" rel="noopener">downloaded</a> over 450 million times – with Generation Z making up 50% of the app’s users.</p> <p>Research by <a href="https://lendedu.com/blog/tinder-match-millennials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Lendedu</a> asked 3,852 millennials whether they had ever met up with their Tinder matches. The research found that only 29% said “yes” – much lower than the 66% who reported meeting for at least one date via more traditional dating sites such as Match or OKCupid.</p> <p>But not everyone on Tinder is hoping to find a date. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0736585316301216" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Research among Dutch Tinder users found</a> that many use the app for validation (using matches merely as an assessment of one’s own level of attractiveness), or for the thrill of receiving a match but having no intention of pursuing a date.</p> <p>For this reason, dating apps may eventually lose users who are pursuing genuine relationships, particularly if they are instead turning to face-to-face opportunities first. But as long as they adapt to the changing demands of daters, apps are here to stay.</p> <p><em><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-4ce66f8c-7fff-c363-fc29-f51da3852aa7">This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/online-dating-fatigue-why-some-people-are-turning-to-face-to-face-apps-first-184910" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</span></strong></em></p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Relationships

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18 hidden voice memos features you never knew about

<p><strong>Make the most of your voice memo app</strong></p> <p>Your iPhone is packed with productivity tools, but you don’t have to download a dozen apps for your device to become a true time-saver. Apple’s voice memo app alone can add to your productivity, help you keep track of your appointments and reminders, and act as your personal assistant. Use Voice Memos to record conversations, meetings, lectures, and the great idea you had while driving or walking the dog. You can even record a phone call on your iPhone by using the Voice Memos app.</p> <p>The app is easy to locate – you’ll find it in your Utilities folder, though you can move it wherever you’d like, or ask Siri to open it for you. It’s easy to use. It’s available on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Apple computers. And best of all, it’s free. There’s no time limit for recordings (it’s dependent on the internal storage capacity of your device), so you can likely record that entire lecture without worry.</p> <p>Scroll down for tips that take you beyond voice memo recording and to all of the truly cool things you can do with a voice memo app.</p> <p><strong>Record a voice memo</strong></p> <p>There are a whole host of reasons you might make good use of a voice memo app. Maybe your boss loves to have walking meetings, but you’re not quite skilled at walking, note-taking… and not running into a tree. Maybe you’re meeting colleagues for a brainstorming dinner and want to keep track of everyone’s ideas. Or maybe you need a quick way to take down a brilliant idea – for a business, a birthday gift, you name it – during your commute.</p> <p>It’s incredibly easy to use your iPhone’s Voice Memos app. (Just be sure to ask the other person’s permission first!) Here’s how:</p> <p>Open the Voice Memos app.</p> <p>To start recording, tap the red record button.</p> <p>Boom! You’re recording your conversation.</p> <p><strong>Pause a recording</strong></p> <p>While you may often record straight through without breaks, there are times when you may want to pause a recording. For instance, during an important lunch meeting with colleagues, you really don’t need to keep track of your coworkers ordering coffee at the care. This iPhone trick will also be helpful during conversations with long pauses or when you’re put on hold. Here’s how to do it:</p> <p>While recording, tap or swipe up on the recording field at the bottom of your screen to bring it into full-screen view.</p> <p>Tap the pause symbol to temporarily stop recording.</p> <p>Tap Resume to continue.</p> <p><strong>Stop a recording</strong></p> <p>When you’re done recording your conversation, remember to actually stop the recording or you’ll be stuck with a really long voice memo that eats into your storage space. Here’s how to do it:</p> <ul> <li><strong>In partial-screen view</strong>: Hit the red square.</li> <li><strong>In full-screen view</strong>: Tap the pause button, then hit the word Done.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Delete a recording</strong></p> <p>Not every recording is worth saving. If you decide you don’t need yours, it’s easy to delete. Here’s how to do that:</p> <p>In your All Recordings list, find the voice memo you’d like to delete.</p> <p>Select the recording to expand the field.</p> <p>Tap the trash can.</p> <p><strong>Recover a recently deleted recording</strong></p> <p>If you delete the wrong file, don’t panic. Just as you can recover deleted photos, you can recover recently deleted recordings. Just follow the steps below.</p> <p>Navigate to the main Voice Memos screen.</p> <p>Tap Recently Deleted.</p> <p>Tap the recording you’d like to restore.</p> <p>Select Recover to restore your recording.</p> <p>To recover multiple deleted voice memos, select Edit in the upper-right corner. Tap all of the recordings you’d like to restore, then select Recover All from the lower left-hand corner.</p> <p>One thing to bear in mind: you only have about 30 days to recover deleted files.</p> <p><strong>Save a recording in the Voice Memos app</strong></p> <p>If you’re satisfied with your recording, you’ll want to save it. Thankfully, a voice memo on iPhone saves automatically. As soon as you stop a recording, it’ll save in the Voice Memos app and appear in your All Recordings list. Yep, it’s actually as simple as that.</p> <p><strong>Rename your recording</strong></p> <p>Be sure to give your file a new name so you’ll be able to find it easily in the future. Here’s how to do that:</p> <p>Tap the recording.</p> <p>Tap on the name.</p> <p>Type your new file name.</p> <p><strong>Save a recording to an iCloud folder</strong></p> <p>While Voice Memos automatically saves a recording, you may want to save it to iCloud for extra security – or so you can access it from any device. By following the steps below, you’ll ensure your voice memo remains in the app and in your chosen folder.</p> <p>Tap the recording you want to move.</p> <p>Look for a circle with three dots in it. Tap it.</p> <p>Select Save to Files from the list below.</p> <p>Tap the folder you’d like to add it to.</p> <p>To create a new iCloud folder, tap the folder icon in the top right corner.</p> <p><strong>Organise recordings in Voice Memos folders</strong></p> <p>If you use the voice memo app often, you may want to organise your recordings to make them easier to find, just as you would organise your apps for easier access. You can group them in folders, which you’ll find on the main Voice Memos screen.</p> <p>Here’s how to move a voice memo to a folder:</p> <p>Tap the recording you want to move.</p> <p>Tap the circle with three dots in it (to the right of the recording’s name).</p> <p>Select Move to Folder from the list below.</p> <p>Tap on the folder you want your recording to appear in.</p> <p>To create a new folder, tap the folder icon in the lower right-hand corner. Give the folder a name, then select Save. Select that folder to save your recording there.</p> <p><strong>Crop a recording</strong></p> <p>There are many reasons why you might want to crop your new file. Musicians often use the Voice Memos app and then crop out the bits they don’t want to share. One thing to keep in mind: While the crop icon looks the same as in Voice Memos as it does in other apps, the function is actually called Trim.</p> <p>Navigate to your All Recordings list.</p> <p>Tap the voice memo you want to crop.</p> <p>Tap the button to the right of your recording that looks like three small dots in a circle.</p> <p>Select the Edit Recording option.</p> <p>Tap the crop tool at the top right of the file.</p> <p>Drag the yellow trim handles until the section you want to keep is highlighted in yellow and the section you want to crop is in white.</p> <p>Be sure to check that you’re keeping the part you want. Tap the play button to listen.</p> <p>Click the Trim button to crop everything except the section highlighted in yellow.</p> <p>Tap save and then Done, and you’re good to go.</p> <p>You can also delete an entire portion of your recording. With the section selected (it’ll be yellow), tap the Delete button. Remember, Trim removes everything except the yellow segment, while Delete removes the yellow segment.</p> <p><strong>Replace sections of a recording</strong></p> <p>If you mumbled or coughed in the middle of an important voice memo, fear not! It’s really easy to record over the bits you don’t like.</p> <p>Go to your All Recordings list.</p> <p>Tap the recording you want to fix.</p> <p>Tap the button to the right of your recording that looks like three small dots in a circle.</p> <p>Select Edit Recording.</p> <p>Move your finger over the waveform (the lines that visually represent your recording) until you’re in the section of your recording you want to replace.</p> <p>Tap the red Replace button to start recording. The waveform will turn red while you record.</p> <p>Tap the pause button when you’re done.</p> <p>Check your recording by hitting the play button. If you’re satisfied, tap Done to save your changes.</p> <p>The great news: You can do this in as many places as you like to make sure you’re happy with the entire recording.</p> <p><strong>Speed up or slow down a recording</strong></p> <p>If a fast or slow talker is making your voice memo sound weird, or if you need to speed up or slow down a section of music, you can do that easily with the voice memo app.</p> <p>Navigate to your All Recordings list.</p> <p>Tap the audio file you want to speed up or slow down.</p> <p>You’ll see an icon in the bottom left corner that looks like a synthesizer, or three lines with buttons. Tap the icon.</p> <p>Under Playback Speed, move the horizontal slider to the left (toward the tortoise icon) to slow down the playback speed of your recording. Move it to the right (toward the hare) to speed up your recording.</p> <p>Tap the X at the top right of the box to close the screen.</p> <p>Press play on your recording to test the new speed.</p> <p>If you’re not happy with the way it sounds, return to the Playback Speed function and select the blue Reset option.</p> <p>When you’re happy with the recording, tap the X to close the screen again.</p> <p><strong>Automatically skip silences in a recording</strong></p> <p>Unlike in real life, it’s really easy to remove awkward silences from recordings in your Voice Memos app.</p> <p>Tap the audio file you want to edit.</p> <p>Tap the icon in the lower-left corner that looks like a synthesiser (three stacked lines, each with a knob).</p> <p>Toggle on the Skip Silence button.</p> <p>Tap the X icon.</p> <p>Tap the play button to listen to the recording and see if you like the way it sounds.</p> <p><strong>Enhance a recording</strong></p> <p>While writing this article, I was typing in the background. I also coughed quite a few times, which didn’t sound amazing on my recording. If you have street noises or other background sounds on your voice memo or just want to create a more professional recording, you can easily enhance it, just as I did.</p> <p>Tap the audio file you want to edit.</p> <p>Tap the icon in the lower-left corner that looks like a synthesiser (three stacked lines, each with a knob).</p> <p>Toggle on the Enhance Recording button.</p> <p>Tap the X icon.</p> <p>Tap the play button to listen to the recording and see if you like the way it sounds.</p> <p><strong>Duplicate a recording</strong></p> <p>Before you edit any recording, you probably should make a backup. That way, if you end up hating your edits, you always have a fresh copy of the original. It’s also helpful if you want to compare the original with the edits.</p> <p>Go to your All Recordings list.</p> <p>Tap the recording you want to duplicate.</p> <p>Tap the button to the right of your recording that looks like three small dots inside a circle.</p> <p>Select Duplicate from the list.</p> <p>The copy of your recording will appear directly below the original with the word “copy” added to the file name. Tap the file to change the file name.</p> <p><strong>Copy a recording</strong></p> <p>I like to keep copies of all my important files in several places. If a file becomes corrupted, I can head to my backup and work from there. Here’s how to copy a recording in your iPhone Voice Memos app.</p> <p>Go to your All Recordings list.</p> <p>Tap the recording you want to copy.</p> <p>Tap the button to the right of your recording that looks like three small dots in a circle.</p> <p>Select Copy from the list.</p> <p>From there, you can paste the voice memo into an email or text to send to yourself (or someone else) as a backup.</p> <p><strong>Share a recording</strong></p> <p>There are many reasons why you might want to share your recording. Maybe your colleagues want a copy of that daylong meeting you recorded or you’re sending your audio notes to someone for transcription. The Voice Memos app makes sharing your file super simple; just follow the steps below.</p> <p>Navigate to your All Recordings list.</p> <p>Tap the file you want to share.</p> <p>Tap the button to the right of your recording that looks like three small dots in a circle.</p> <p>Select Share from the options below.</p> <p>Select how you’d like to share this file, such as via email, text, or AirDrop.</p> <p><strong>Record a phone call</strong></p> <p>Maybe you’re speaking with a lawyer and want to catch every last detail. Or maybe you’re interviewing someone. Whatever your reason, it’s helpful to know how to record a phone conversation. Apple doesn’t make that easy – you can’t record a call in Voice Memos while you’re on your phone. But there’s a workaround: Use two devices.</p> <p>Open the Voice Memos app on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Mac computer.</p> <p>Start recording by tapping the red record button.</p> <p>Make your phone call from a different phone. Be sure to place the call on speaker so Voice Memos captures both sides of the conversation.</p> <p>When your call is over, hang up the phone and stop recording.</p> <p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-cf7fa5ea-7fff-554b-232e-079b0ae53d8c">Written by Rachel Weingarten. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/science-technology/18-hidden-voice-memos-features-you-never-knew-about" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></span></em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Technology

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“Aren’t you my psych?” Woman “matches” with her psychologist on dating app

<p dir="ltr">Bored at home, swiping left or right on potential dates, an Australian woman was shocked to find that her psychologist allegedly matched with her on a dating app. </p> <p dir="ltr">The woman from Byron Bay was on the dating app Hinge and claims to have “matched unintentionally” with the mental health professional.  </p> <p dir="ltr">She took to Facebook for advice on what to do, supported with screenshots of the alleged message exchange. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I need a bit of help and don't know what to do,” the young woman started.</p> <p dir="ltr">“My psychologist, who I haven't seen in a few months but have been in contact with, messaged me on Hinge.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I matched with him unintentionally and didn’t realise it was him until he messaged me.” </p> <p dir="ltr">The man reached out first writing, “Hey,” along with a heart eye emoji. “I feel like we’ve matched before.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The woman did not hesitate to ask him, “Aren’t you my psych?”</p> <p dir="ltr">Upon realising the “gross” nature of the situation, the psychologist immediately apologised to the woman, but continued the conversation and asked her how she was. </p> <p dir="ltr">She admitted to feeling “scared and violated” and wanted advice on how to approach the alleged situation.  </p> <p dir="ltr">“A part of me wants to do something about it because I worry about other patients of his who he might do this to. Any help and advice on whether I should do something or not would be appreciated,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">She also shared a screenshot of a previous text message from the psychologist informing her that it’s been “months” since her last appointment.  </p> <p dir="ltr">The woman explained that the reason she “matched” with him is because he was using a different name on the app. </p> <p dir="ltr">The psychologist eventually found out that the woman had shared screenshots of their interaction and threatened to sue her for defamation.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Hello, I believe you have been spreading slander about me on social media. Please expect to be hearing from a lawyer in regard to defamation over the next week or so,’ the psychologist allegedly texted the woman.</p> <p dir="ltr">“How is it defamation when everything is true?” she responded.</p> <p dir="ltr">“What you’ve done is grossly inappropriate and violates ethical codes. You’re not allowed to approach me in public let alone instigate contact on a dating app. Even after I said “aren’t you my psych?”, you still tried to continue the conversation knowing full well my status as a patient of yours. I will be reporting to AHPRA.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“I genuinely did not know that you were a client before you told me. I’m sure you can appreciate that I see a lot of clients and it’s been months since you have had a session,” he concluded. </p> <p dir="ltr">The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) is understood to be investigating the alleged matter, according to <a href="http://news.com.au" target="_blank" rel="noopener">news.com.au</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Facebook</em></p> <p> </p>

Relationships

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Have a healthier relationship with your phone

<p><strong>Regain control of your phone</strong></p> <p>If you find yourself checking your phone several dozen times a day, don’t worry, it’s not quite your fault.</p> <p>Lots of apps and programs, especially social media apps, have been designed to capture your attention and make it difficult for you to put your phone down.</p> <p>Unfortunately, though, there’s a down side to all this connectivity.</p> <p>One study showed that people with a longer average screen time, and those who used their phones close to bedtime, had poorer sleep quality.</p> <p>Another study, released in the journal The Lancet, revealed that the use of your phone in the wee hours of the morning, could increase the chances of developing psychological issues such as depression, bipolar disorder and neuroticism.</p> <p>While the phone is undoubtedly important in our daily lives, we can all agree that we shouldn’t have to pay such a steep price for it in terms of compromising our health. It’s time to take some steps to cultivate a healthier relationship with our phones.</p> <p>Here are a few dos and don’ts:</p> <p><strong>DO - turn off app notifications</strong></p> <p>Every time a notification goes off, it serves as a trigger for us to immediately pick up our phones.</p> <p>Turning off notifications will ensure that we don’t constantly feel pressured to check what’s going on.</p> <p>If you must, just leave notifications on for chat functions so you don’t miss important messages.</p> <p><strong>DO - Go grayscale</strong></p> <p>Setting your phone to grayscale can help you reduce the number of times you check it.</p> <p>This piece of advice comes from Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google who co-founded The Center for Humane Technology.</p> <p>The reason behind this is that certain colours used by the apps, such as red and bright blue, subconsciously excite us and entice us to check our phones.</p> <p>By going grayscale, you lose such triggers.</p> <p><strong>DO - Leave your phone behind</strong></p> <p>Spend some time physically apart from your phone.</p> <p>Start small by first leaving your phone in your bag when you work out at the gym, and work towards leaving your phone at home when you have a jog around the neighbourhood.</p> <p>After a while, you may get more comfortable with the idea of spending more time apart.</p> <p><strong>DONT - Charge your device in the bedroom</strong></p> <p>Alternatively, make sure your phone is out of reach or placed at the other end of the room.</p> <p>This makes sure that you don’t check it first thing in the morning before even getting out of bed.</p> <p><strong>DON'T - Place your favoutire app shortcuts on your home screen</strong></p> <p>With such quick access to these apps, you’ll be tempted to constantly check in.</p> <p>Instead, keep only important tools on your home screen and relegate the other apps to the back pages.</p> <p>This way, you have to type the app name and do a search whenever you want to launch it, which just might be enough to discourage you from using it.</p> <p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-6f84baca-7fff-a6be-be8a-e56fe670cdec">Written by Siti Rohani. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/science-technology/have-healthier-relationship-your-phone" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></span></em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Technology

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Woman's $940k theft from vet hospital to play pokies app

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A woman has pleaded guilty to stealing $940,000 from her employer, after using the funds to fuel her addiction to an online gambling game that doesn’t pay out real money.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Tasmanian woman Rachel Naomi Perri appeared before Hobart’s Supreme Court on Monday facing 25 charges of computer-related fraud and one count of fraud.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ms Perri, 49, stole the money over the three years she worked at the Tasmanian Veterinary Hospital as an account manager.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The “anomalies” in bank transactions were only discovered after Ms Perri was made redundant.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The full extent of her theft was uncovered after a full investigation.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Crown prosecutor Simone Wilson told the court that Ms Perri made 475 fraudulent transactions over the course of three years and four months, with the final amount totalling $940,221.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ms Wilson told the court that Ms Perri was the only person managing the hospital’s bank accounts and transferred money from the accounts to a variety of credit cards, personal loans, and other bank accounts in her name.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Police also discovered that Ms Perri had fraudulently taken out a $30,000 credit card in her husband’s name in 2015, racking up $24,000 in debt without her husband’s knowledge.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When she was interviewed by police in 2019, Ms Perri “immediately said, ‘I’m guilty’.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The court heard that Ms Perri told police she had been playing a game called Heart of Vegas for the past four years, which is where all of the money had gone.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It is similar to playing pokies and you shop to purchase coins or credits,” Ms Wilson told the court.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“[But the] credit purchased never turned into actual money. She couldn’t explain why she was playing that game when there was no return.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Heart of Vegas claims to feature “real Vegas slot machines just like the ones you know and love”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Its terms and conditions also state that players “may be required to pay a fee to obtain virtual items”, but that “virtual items may never be redeemed for ‘real world money’”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ms Wilson read out Ms Perri’s interview with police to the court and said she was in her “own little world” while playing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I got myself into so much trouble but decided I’d keep going until [I] got caught,” she </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-11-23/woman-pleads-guilty-to-stealing-940k-from-her-workplace/100639450" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">said</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in the record of the interview.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I knew I couldn’t get away with it. I was waiting for a knock on the door from police.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Greg Barns, Ms Perri’s lawyer, told the court that the accused had a “lengthy history of gambling” that started when she turned 18 in Launceston.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“She began to use poker machines and she won $26 from placing a dollar into a machine and, as she described it, it went from there,” he told the court.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mr Grant said his client had moved from Launceston to Hobart for a fresh start, but began gambling 2008-09.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“She described spending consecutive hours on poker machines,” he said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“One session she spent 16 hours continuously playing on the machine.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When Ms Perri discovered Heart of Vegas, Mr Barns said she became so addicted that she would keep spending money just to “keep playing the game”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“She got so addicted that she’d play it first thing in the morning,” he told the court.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“She would set it up at night so it played in auto.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ms Perri was diagnosed as having a severe gambling disorder by forensic psychiatrist Dr Michael Jordan.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“He considered that Perri’s gambling disorder was the most significant factor in her fraud activity,” Mr Barns told the court.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“[Her gambling was mindless, with no hope of any financial gain.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mr Barns told the court that Ms Perri voluntarily entered therapy and would need to continue once she was in prison.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">He said it was unlikely that his client would be able to pay back the veterinary services, after they instituted civil proceedings to recover the money.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ms Wilson said the accused’s behaviour was “planned” and “calculated”, and that she only stopped because she was made redundant.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The prospects of her recovering are slim to non-existent,” she told the court.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ms Perri has been remanded in custody until she is sentenced next month.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty Images</span></em></p>

Legal

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‘Similar to ordering a pizza’: how buy now, pay later apps influence young people’s spending

<p>Young people are often blamed for making <a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/weekend-australian-magazine/moralisers-we-need-you/news-story/6bdb24f77572be68330bd306c14ee8a3">irresponsible choices</a> with money.</p> <p>But the real issue is not whether they eat too many <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2016/oct/18/are-millennials-actually-bad-at-saving-or-are-houses-just-unaffordable?CMP=share_btn_fb">expensive cafe breakfasts</a>. Young Australians today face an uncertain job market, rising university fees and astronomical house prices. Unfortunately, <a href="https://theconversation.com/home-ownership-falling-debts-rising-its-looking-grim-for-the-under-40s-81619">debt</a> is also an inevitable part of their lives.</p> <p>This comes amid a huge rise in the number of “buy now, pay later” apps, such as <a href="https://theconversation.com/explainer-how-lending-startups-like-afterpay-make-their-money-86477">AfterPay</a>, and <a href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/money/costs/ripoff-financial-experts-warn-of-the-dangerous-trap-of-payday-loans/news-story/1471cc4a61594cdb9e7a724a76e534d7">payday loan apps</a>, such as <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-18/payday-lending-consumer-risk-coronavirus-financial-hardship/12549412">Nimble</a>. It is possible to make purchases online with the the tap of a button, even if you don’t have the money in your account or on your credit card. It is also possible the able to borrow money <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/whats-up-with-payday-loans/7794806">within minutes</a>.</p> <p>To better understand how young people negotiate debt, we interviewed 31 people aged between 18 and 29 in the Newcastle and Hunter Valley area in 2020 and 2021. We asked them how they access credit and their views on different kinds of debt.</p> <h2>Our study</h2> <p>Our participants saw debt as a necessity if they are going to have an acceptable life in the present and plan for the future. As Steph, a 22-year-old university student, said:</p> <blockquote> <p>Large debts like the mortgage, the HECS debt […] things like that I suppose in a sense it’s useful debt. It makes sense and it gets you further by doing it because there’s still an equity in what you’re doing … It follows you not nearly as badly as some other debts.</p> </blockquote> <p>Young people also made distinctions about the way debt feels and how approachable it is. They acknowledged short-term consumer debts may not be “good”, but felt they were also part of being able to buy the things and have the experiences associated with being young.</p> <p>Those we interviewed talked about AfterPay (where you pay off the debt in four installments) as an everyday part of life. As Alexa, a 23-year-old university student, told us:</p> <blockquote> <p>AfterPay is for just those little wants that I don’t want to pay for up front.</p> </blockquote> <p>They also described it as a low-risk and almost friendly way to buy things. This was particularly when compared to a bank. Alice, a 21-year-old sales assistant, put it this way:</p> <blockquote> <p>AfterPay is like, ‘Oh, just pay this off in four quick things and you can have your item. We’ll send it out.’ But then banks are like, ‘If you don’t pay this back, you’re going to get so much interest and it’s going to suck, and you’ll have the sheriffs roll up at your house and you’re going to be sad.’</p> </blockquote> <h2>Like ordering a pizza</h2> <p>Interviewees attributed some of this friendliness to the process of accessing the money or goods. Mia, a 21-year-old paralegal, described applying for a small loan on the Nimble app:</p> <blockquote> <p>When you apply for the money […] you can track at any point on it. The Nimble app is so similar to ordering a Domino’s pizza […] Whereas a credit card through a banking app, it’s nothing like that […] They send me letters and even opening the mail terrifies me, nothing good comes via snail mail ever.</p> </blockquote> <p>The online, easy nature of these loan services closely relates to how young people engage with information more generally in their lives. In this sense, there is a familiarity and comfort to the way they work.</p> <p>As Mia continues:</p> <blockquote> <p>[It’s] positive, it’s not daunting, it’s informative, it’s instantaneous. The second the money comes out, I get a thank you email and a notification on the app. It’s like, ‘you have this many payments left, this is how much you’ve paid, this is how much you have left to pay, you will still be paid in full by this date’. I don’t have any of that with my credit card.</p> </blockquote> <h2>Familiar tactics</h2> <p>Inteviewees also spoke of how services like AfterPay and short-term loan apps used similar tactics to social media platforms to encourage increased engagement and make the experience feel informal and even social.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/429684/original/file-20211102-10001-letons.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Young people using their phones and laptops." /> <span class="caption">Applying for a loan via an app does not involve ‘scary’ paperwork, according to interviewees.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">www.shutterstock.com</span></span></p> <p>These include “on this day” reminders (such as, “this time last year, you bought this pair of shoes”) and waiting time indicators. There are also <a href="https://theconversation.com/gamification-status-you-score-ten-points-for-reading-this-article-5068">game elements</a>, including “rewards” for early repayments.</p> <p>Interviewees were aware this was manipulative. Lilian (26) works at a chain clothing store and was “rewarded ” for paying off a purchase early.</p> <blockquote> <p>I got this thing the other day saying that my first payment [on a new purchase] is actually going to come out [later] now. Of course, I’ve been rewarded for paying everything off early [before] […] Yeah it’s like it’s delaying it, it’s not an issue now, but it’s going to be an issue in two weeks’ time.</p> </blockquote> <h2>What next?</h2> <p>Our interviewees may see debt as a necessity, but they are also aware they have (some) choices within this. So they prefer to go with providers or platforms that feel less threatening, especially as using “buy now, pay later” services sometimes does not feel like being in debt.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/429686/original/file-20211102-25-9gi5ho.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Young man on his phone with a coffee." /> <span class="caption">Young people see debt as an inevitable part of life, according to new research.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">www.shutterstock.com</span></span></p> <p>There is a need for <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/calls-for-tighter-regulation-as-buy-now-pay-later-costs-mount-20210610-p57zuc.html">greater regulation</a> of the ways these products are promoted. It should always be made clear that this is a form of debt, not just a way to pay.</p> <p>Beyond, this, instead of “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2016/oct/18/are-millennials-actually-bad-at-saving-or-are-houses-just-unaffordable?CMP=share_btn_fb">blaming</a>” young people for their spending habits, we need a better understanding of the economy and society they are living and working in. And how debt it is all but inevitable for people on low wages, with poor job security and insecure housing.</p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/steven-threadgold-167968">Steven Threadgold</a>, Associate Professor, Sociology, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-newcastle-1060">University of Newcastle</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-farrugia-243862">David Farrugia</a>, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities and Social Science, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-newcastle-1060">University of Newcastle</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/julia-coffey-129629">Julia Coffey</a>, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-newcastle-1060">University of Newcastle</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/julia-cook-869068">Julia Cook</a>, Lecturer in Sociology, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-newcastle-1060">University of Newcastle</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kate-davies-290466">Kate Davies</a>, Human Services Lecturer, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-newcastle-1060">University of Newcastle</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kate-senior-1284499">Kate Senior</a>, Associate Professor, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-newcastle-1060">University of Newcastle</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/similar-to-ordering-a-pizza-how-buy-now-pay-later-apps-influence-young-peoples-spending-170024">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Money & Banking

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"Where can I find this cheaper?" New app compares Coles and Woolies

<p><em>Image: Wiselist app</em></p> <p>It’s the age-old question shoppers everywhere have been asking almost every day: “Where can I find this cheaper?”</p> <p>Well, today is the today those questions have been answered. Wiselist, a free app, will compare weekly prices between Coles and Woolworths.</p> <p>“Super cheap and handy to have both Coles and Woolies groceries mix and matched, then delivered on the same day,” one shopper wrote in the money-saving Facebook group ‘Markdown addicts Australia’.</p> <p>Budget-savvy shoppers are keen to understand how the app works and how they can implement it as part of their grocery shopping routine.</p> <p>“Oh, what? Did not know this was a thing! And here’s me manually looking up the prices for my shopping list before we go out,” one person wrote in a post about the app.</p> <p>“This is a life-saver for me! Didn’t even know about it,” added another.</p> <p>So, how does Wiselist work?</p> <p>It works by offering the consumer the option to search for items and create their own grocery list.</p> <p>As items are searched for, the list of products appears, breaking down the cost between Coles and Woolworths.</p> <p>The cheaper option is displayed at the top, showing the price difference between stores for that particular product.</p> <p>There is an option to create a grocery list for the week or fortnight with the price breakdown from each store available. You can even browse products through each of the stores' weekly catalogues and add them to your shopping list.</p> <p>As you add items, the app displays a price comparison for that item and total price for both Coles and Woolworths, letting you know which store has the cheaper option. The app also includes a watchlist feature, enabling you to be alerted when items go on sale. You can even add Flybuys and Everyday Rewards cards to the app to collect your points.</p> <p>So what’s the catch?</p> <p>While the app is useful for price comparison, the delivery feature isn’t available to everyone. It’s only available in metro Sydney. You would need to take into account the 5 per cent charge and delivery fee on top of your grocery bill.</p> <p>While this app seems like every budget-friendly shoppers dream, some users have pointed out “it sometimes displays the same price of products, but a different price per unit which customers need to look out for.”</p> <p>Apps including ‘Frugl’ have also been suggested.</p> <p>Happy savings!</p>

Technology

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