One of the foremost concerns for anyone engaging in online communications anymore is privacy and security. What it means to be “private” can change depending on the user, but Kik Messenger is clearly a chat application that places both privacy and freedom at the forefront of its priorities. Here we use some of the excellent tips on “A Parent’s Guide to Kik” from ConnectSafely. Please bookmark this resource for up to date information on how to keep your children safe.
Hacked accounts, stolen personal information, and publicly shared private information are still topics that make news headlines on a daily basis. Much of this has to do with the fact that we’re sharing more information digitally than we ever have before. After all, much of the private information that’s being divulged when it shouldn’t wouldn’t even be available to share if it wasn’t located in some form of digital record. As our private and public lives begin to incorporate digital platforms more and more, this trend isn’t likely to de-escalate anytime soon. Just how many people carry smartphones in their pocket every day, anyway?
It is still possible, however, to be safe with your information. Choosing which information you’re going to share is not an easy thing, especially when so many of the modern mobile applications require varying amounts of it to even set up a profile. This is also a trend that’s likely to continue, as digital marketing and sales become a stronger economic force. It doesn’t mean that every app is asking for your information left and right, though. Kik Messenger, for example, is as fully-featured of a chat platform as any of its competitors (perhaps even more so!) and it asks remarkably fewer of your personal details. Whereas many applications might need your phone number, address, or other contact information before you can even begin chatting, Kik Messenger only requires three things:
- An email address
- A unique username
- A unique password
And for its basic functions, that’s all that Kik is ever going to ask you. With these three bits of information, you can get rolling on Kik’s messaging servers, start chat groups, use its built-in web browser, and have conversations with popular brands that maintain a presence on Kik. It’s an easy network to access!
While you don’t have to divulge much in the way of private information on Kik, there are certain caveats to the app’s user profile approach that require slightly different cautions from you as a user. As you’ll find out, any chat application requires a certain investment in your own personal security, privacy, and safety, even if Kik doesn’t actively carry your more personal contact information.
Once you’ve lost your privacy, you realize you’ve lost an extremely valuable thing.– Billy Graham
How is Kik Private?
There’s only one way that another user could glean your personal information from interacting with you on Kik Messenger: if you choose to give it to them. In this way, Kik is far more innately private than many applications. However, the extent of the amount of privacy that it offers can be seen by exploring a few of Kik’s finer features. For the sake of this discussion, let’s say that every digital platform has a dividing line between user responsibility and application responsibility.
User responsibility revolves around information that the user chooses to personally divulge; this is outside of the app’s security or the development of the app itself. Application responsibility is determined by what information is used by the app itself. Any information that’s shared during your chats is the responsibility of the user. It also falls to the user when it comes to sharing your profile with others.
Kik Allows a Great Deal of Privacy
In Kik Messenger, the means by which other users and your friends find you is your unique username. Even for people that you might be in close contact with, this username is still needed in order for people to locate you in the directory of Kik users. It’s beneficial to choose an username that’s easy for you to remember, but not necessarily easy for others to remember. A combination of letters, both upper and lowercase, and numbers will help to give you an username that’s not easy to find on a random search. Rest assured that you do not need to display your username during your chats. As I’ll illustrate below, changing your display name is a simple matter.
Because Kik doesn’t ask you to share your phone number or your full name, even contacts that you maintain on your mobile device will need your username to look you up. What does this mean with regard to privacy?
- There’s a low amount of app responsibility in how your personal information might be shared since it asks for very little of it. Even the required email address can be created free, and also, be devoid of personal information.
- The majority of personal information sharing comes down to user responsibility. If you choose to share personal information within Kik Messenger chats, then it behooves you to be responsible for it!
More than many messaging applications, Kik gives you control over who is able to send messages to you. Whether you’re using the browser, or simply participating in a one-on-one or group chat, users will only ever have access to what you want them to know.
Kik Messenger does come with an “address matching” feature that you can turn on when installing the app. Though this doesn’t necessarily negate any of the aforementioned privacy, it does use information stored in the “contacts” section of your mobile device to determine which of your friends are using Kik. This does not, however, lead to any sharing of your own personal information or your contacts’ details. Kik simply cross-checks any email addresses stored on your phone, to see if they’re in use by Kik users. It’s a handy shortcut that simply uses the normal method of finding contacts but automates it for the sake of finding your friends faster.
Be a Responsible Kik User
That unique username that the rest of your Kik account is tied to is very important. Not only is it how your contacts will find you, it’s also the foundation of your entire Kik profile. That does not mean that it needs to be shared publicly, however! Choosing a display name will help to keep your username private.
There’s a feature within Kik Messenger’s settings that allows you to choose which name is displayed for your profile. Simply go into Kik Messenger’s “settings” menu (located either at the top or bottom left in the corner of the interface) and select “your account.” From here, you can easily enter anything you’d like in the “name” entry field, which will then change which name is displayed to those who are chatting with you.
Why You Should Be Careful With Your Username
Sharing your unique username in Kik Messenger is tantamount to sharing your personal information in a different chat application. This is where user responsibility come into play in a significant way.
Consider, for a moment, what could happen if your unique username was leaked to people that you didn’t want to have it. Though Kik Messenger’s block feature is quite effective, consider how easy it would be for a plethora of people you don’t know to begin sending you masses of unwanted messages. This very thing has happened to many users who freely gave away their user profile, and it’s a testament to how important your username is within Kik. Since so few personal details are used when creating a profile, your unique username becomes the most important feature of your profile.
Here are a few tips that will help to keep your profile private:
- Don’t create an username that can be easily guessed
- Be mindful of who you share your user profile with
- Change your display name as soon as your account is created
- Be respectful in all of your chats
If these tips are closely followed, you’ll be surprised at how private and safe your Kik experience can be. The Kik app itself shares very little of your information, and so the burden of responsibility passes almost entirely to the user.
Kik Messenger provides an exceptionally private chat experience as long as you’re mindful of how you share your own information. You cannot change your unique username once you’ve created a Kik profile, and so you must take special care in who you choose to share that information with. There are features in plenty within Kik that will allow you to reach out to new acquaintances and old, but you should always keep in mind the repercussions that can stem from widespread knowledge of your contact information.
A last, useful note for Kik users that make use of multiple devices for their messaging experience: you can only be signed into one device at a time! Though this is less frequently a security issue if you ever happen to lose a device that has your Kik profile on it, all that you need to do to ensure your privacy is sign onto Kik from a different device. Easy solution for a rare circumstance, right?
What other Kik privacy tips do you have? Reply in the comments below with any added suggestions for keeping chats private!