Is Pokémon GO Safe to Play?
Whether you’re a Pokémon GO fan or not, you can’t ignore this game, which is rapidly entering the global consciousness. Unless you live on Jupiter or walk around with your ears plugged, you probably know at least a rough outline of the super-popular app.
There are already tens of millions of fans of virtual monsters in the world, but this is just the beginning of Pokemania, and no one knows to what extent it will grow.
But most importantly, Pokémon GO is accused of violating privacy: the app “tracks” your location and forces you to turn on the camera. So, the authors of the game allegedly get access to personal data that can fall into the wrong hands, up to all sorts of special services, and not only in the host country.
We’ve already touched the issue of privacy on one of the most popular sites for adults — Pornhub. If you’ve missed it, read Adult Content: Is Pornhub Safe?
Now, we’ve decided to dive into the topic of teen and kids’ content, explain the phenomenon of this game, and consider the issue: “Is Pokémon GO safe or not?”
What is Pokémon GO?
Pokémon GO is a free-to-play mobile game. It’s possible to play for free, but you will have to pay a certain amount of real money for comfortable gameplay. The game consists of catching, training, and fighting virtual creatures — Pokémon (“pocket monsters”).
Unlike most mobile games with a closed plot, Pokémon GO is closely intertwined with the real world, and this fact makes it really attractive to millions of people. With GPS, the player must roam the real world, hunting Pokémon that are scattered on the subway, schools, parks, etc.
With the popularity of this game, its impact on people’s physical and mental health can be enormous, and this phenomenon has been studied by doctors and psychologists from all over the world.
Also, the phenomenal popularity of this game raises another question: is Pokémon GO safe? Once you log in to Pokémon GO, the game instantly calculates your location. Then it will ask you to turn on the camera — and while you are catching Pikachu, your apartment, office or the surrounding courtyard will be in the frame.
In theory, all this personal data can be captured: the smartphone will send photos or videos from the scene without permission, exposing your personal space. But the users themselves do not hesitate to take a screenshot of the long-awaited capture, and some of them even throw their genitals into the frame for good measure!
Therefore, we will analyze this game’s danger from two perspectives: mental and physical health and security of use.
Pokémon GO: the health impacts
Computer games are generally not considered healthy because 99% of them involve prolonged sitting and eye strain.
The only exception so far is that some games on the Nintendo platform (Pokémon GO creators) motivate children and adult players to move — jump, play tennis or hit the ball with their virtual heroes. Pokémon GO is a very nice example in this regard.
The main thing is that Pokémon GO forces young (and older) players to get out of the house and walk around the city. Ultimately, this can significantly improve the health of the population. Scientists have long warned about the dangers of inactivity. A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity.
Inactive people not only experience more pains and become physically weaker, but also die earlier. This is a serious global problem. For a modern person, Pokémon GO is a good game in some ways. If millions of our children got out on the streets and spent at least an extra hour looking for Pokémon instead of riding the sofa — it would be great.
Walking down the street is useful not only for the waistline but also for a person’s psycho-emotional wellbeing. A major meta-analysis of scientific data published in 2012 by the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity gave everyone pause for thought. It turns out that long walks reduce the symptoms of depression in some groups of people.
Meanwhile, today about 14.8 million American adults suffer from clinical depression. If walking with Pokémon GO helps distract at least a small percentage of them — can you imagine how this will affect society? Interestingly, the game Pokémon GO helps users to establish contact with people whom, in other circumstances, they would not talk to.
Pokémon GO dangerous thefts
All those interested in the safe side of the application should be extremely careful about what they install. This app’s unprecedented success, combined with the fact that it is not currently available everywhere, has made users of this game a primary target for cybercriminals.
Pay attention to real protection from cyber criminals. Read 6 Common Types of Cyber Threats and take the necessary measures now.
A malicious version of the app
“Black hats” have already created a malicious version, which is distributed online. Hackers download a little more than just a Pokémon game to their victim’s devices.
To avoid becoming a fraud victim, potential players should only download the app from official stores. Then users should check that the app is authentic. The legitimate app is developed by Niantic Labs and distributed by Nintendo.
The first concern is Pokémon privacy issues. The problem was first noted a few days after the app was released. The concern was found in iOS version when users sign up with their account on Google. It means that the program has full control over user accounts and can view everything posted in the user profile.
The app collects your personal information. It includes lots of things about your private life. Read the article What is Personal Information and How Can You Protect It and know all the nuances of this issue.
Users’ geolocation feature permanently activated. It means that the company behind the Pokémon game has the data about where you are right now. And this can lead to huge data leaks.
The developer of the game — Niantic Labs — is directly connected with Google. The project itself was founded by John Hanks, the founder of the project for mapping the Earth’s surface (Google Maps and Google Earth were made on its basis). Keyhole Inc, the Corporation that developed Google street maps, accepted funding from the CIA’s In-Q-Tel Foundation.
Google Maps managed to map almost all the cities on the planet. However, some locations were closed to them: state institutions, private apartments of people, military facilities. But with the help of a clever game called Pokémon GO, the CIA gets access to what was previously unavailable.
For more about Google tracking methods, you can read the article Google Data Tracking: How to Track Users on The Network?
Why is Pokémon GO dangerous?
Is Pokémon GO really dangerous? If you forget for a second all the information above, one thing becomes clear: Pokémon GO is no more dangerous than Skype, Instagram, Snapchat and a dozen other apps that require access to the camera and microphone.
In the information world, in principle, there can be no anonymity — with any access to the internet, your hardware already sends some data to someone. Right now, the third parties are watching you.
Pokémon GO has the potential to invade your privacy, but you can’t protect yourself by deleting the app. For this, you need to cover up all the cameras and block all the microphones. Or you could cover yourself with an anonymous network like Utopia P2P, and live in peace.
Is it still possible to remain anonymous on the internet? Read the possible options in the article Anonymity Online: How to Stop Being Afraid of Surveillance.