Although I haven’t feared for the safety of my Google searches or Microsoft Outlook emails until recently, my distrust of Facebook has been in full effect since I saw the Social Network back in 2010. After watching the movie, I decided to do some digging on Mark Zuckerberg, and more specifically, his dedication (or lack thereof) to fair play.
Turns out, Marky Mark has been trashing on our concerns for privacy since the very beginning, calling anyone who decided to entrust their servers with sensitive personal information “dumb-f****s“. Since I found out about his less than zealous dedication to keeping our information safe, I’ve been less than enthusiastic about sharing the details of my life on Facebook, opting instead to go the more traditional route of talking about what I ate that day, or posting a picture of some common landscape from a recognizable point that anybody could have taken from the same vista.
I like to keep things ambiguous, which is why the secret social network Syme caught my eye the first time I heard about it back in October. Firstly, because the name “Syme” actually comes from a character in George Orwell’s 1984, the dystopian epic about a security state gone awry. And secondly, if you’re someone who doesn’t want to give up the ability to network with friends and family but can’t seem to find a good alternative to Facebook or Google +, Syme is the perfect way to stay in touch without the government knowing “who-what-where-when-how and-why”.
Upon first entering your new account, the initial thing that stands out is how simplified, clean, and minimalistic the layout is. Free from the same ads and clutter we’ve become accustomed to on the big blue-and-white, the purpose of Syme is instantly clear from the moment you begin using it, and I for one couldn’t be more pleased with the results.
“The overarching goal of Syme is to make encryption accessible and easy to use for people who aren’t geeks or aren’t hackers or who aren’t cryptography experts,” said co-founder Jonathan Hershon
People register Syme accounts using an email address, and Syme can see which users have communicated with each other. It also knows when posts were written, when someone connected to Syme and the size of transferred files or photos. Hershon cautions that Syme is undergoing peer review and should not relied on for the transmission of super-sensitive messages.
The profile of a potential Syme user is someone who wants more secure, but not bulletproof, communication without, say, Facebook’s sprawl and exposure.
As of now, you can install Syme as an extension for Google Chrome, with Firefox, Safari, iOS, and Android versions in the pipeline of what’s to come. You can sign up on their homepage, and be up and running within 5 minutes after filling out a few simple details that even Syme themselves wouldn’t be able to read if they wanted to. Unlike Facebook and Google+, Syme doesn’t store any of its data on central servers that can be easily spied upon by US officials. Located in Canada, the service automatically scrambles up everything that travels in and out of their lines before it gets there and after it leaves, ensuring your privacy is protected every step of the way.
And even though Syme is a great leap in the right direction, the company even states on their FAQ page that their service can not protect your identity or hide your IP, which is why you should always be using a VPN providers anytime to you connect to their service and expect to remain anonymous.