Video chatting has gained prominence and popularity in recent times, with people living in far-flung places and physical meet-ups becoming increasingly less accessible. People have found these online video chatting portals to be the best way to connect with families and friends and make interactions more life-like.
These video chatting portals have seen a massive upsurge in the last year with the ongoing pandemic that took the world by storm in early 2020. They are not only being used for social connections but also for business conferences, online education, and more. With work from home becoming the mainstay in the last year, the majority of the working population has been forced to find new solutions for connecting with their teams and bosses. In fact, people have moved everything to the online sphere with online dating and networking too. However, like any other virtual software, these online video chatting portals have their dark side; which means you need to be careful while choosing a portal. Here is a checklist to help you find a safe portal that will have all the latest features and at the same time, be secure.
1. Thorough study
There are hundreds of video chatting portals available today, making it challenging for someone to decide which one to use. Thus, it is important to do a thorough study of the apps and shortlist some based on your requirements. If you want an app for dating, look out for dating specific ones. If you want a video chatting portal to connect with family and friends, choose a portal like Camfrog. However, if you want one for official meetings and conferences, choose one that allows you to have many people in one call.
While researching for video chatting portals, please read their privacy policies, reviews, costs and plans. Many of the apps have hidden costs and terms and conditions mentioned in the fine print. Be sure to read them properly; or else you might be caught unawares.
2. Read reviews
One way to find out if a video chatting platform is authentic and popular is through user reviews. A user will be the best judge of the app and will give honest feedback on it. They will be able to tell you about all the hidden costs and underlying terms and conditions that are only revealed after using the app. Many of the apps have a user’s review section, where you can read comments about the app. It is best to read them and then make an informed choice.
3. Prioritize security features
Security is the most vital feature to check in any video chatting portal. It should form the basis of choosing one software over the other. Many big names in the business like Zoom have had security breaches leading to privacy invasion and account hacking. Thus, you should always double-check the security features of the video chatting software you plan to use. Here is what you should consider:
- Password authentication– Ensure that every meeting you sign in with through your video conference portal uses password authentication. It might seem a little time consuming to punch a password for every meeting but not having a password could turn into a massive security breach, especially when the discussion involves confidential and highly sensitive information. Remember, people can easily gain access to meeting IDs and use the chat portion to spread malicious links and upload files. Having password protection creates another wall between the perpetrator and you.
- End-to-end encryption– Ensure that all the video calls are end-to-end encrypted so that they are seen only by the people on the call and not the app. This will ascertain complete privacy of the user.
4. Anonymity Feature – A must-have
Video chatting can be a fun way to meet new people, especially in these times of social distancing and stay-at-home orders. However, for some, it can be quite an intimidating experience. You may be an introvert who is not comfortable sharing pictures and personal details with strangers, or you might want to be comfortable and sure of the person you are interacting with before divulging any details. In such cases, your video chatting app should have an anonymity feature. This feature allows you to maintain your privacy till you are comfortable sharing it. This will enable you to ease into a conversation with strangers and talk to them without any inhibitions. It also works as an excellent security feature.
5. Multi-platform support
Ensure that the video chatting portal you choose is compatible on different platforms such as iOS, Android, Windows and Linux because you might be using an android device today but later might want to switch to an Apple gadget. If your video chatting app does not support both, you will have to bid farewell to all the connections and friendships you have made on that portal.
6. Updating to the latest version
Check out if you can update the video chatting app to the latest version. It is best to have the latest version so that you get the latest features. Also, with every upgrade, companies can fix any bugs or vulnerabilities that malicious hackers can use to their advantage. Updating to the latest version will increase the app’s speed too and tends to not take up as much space on your device.
7. Multilingual support
Most often, video chatting platforms are available in English but what if you are not well-versed in English and want to chat with people around the world? Thus, having an app that supports different languages is the best. You can connect with more people from across the globe and interact with them uninhibitedly without the language barrier. Paltalk is one such video chatting software that supports 17 languages.
8. Myriad chat options
Look out for video chatting portals that have various chatting options. From one-to-one live messaging, private video & audio calls to group calls with your crew. These options make it more attractive for users to connect, especially in these times of social distancing. For instance, Camfrog has the option of private chats and public chat rooms. In the latter, you can connect with many people and discuss different topics; these public rooms are also good for networking and discussions. The one-on-one chat rooms are best used for more intimate conversations.
9. Free and paid apps
Quite a few of the video chatting apps offer their services for free while others have paid versions with additional features. You need to look out for this aspect while shortlisting video chatting software. Read the terms and conditions well and the payment policy too, or else you may start using an app thinking it is free but end up stumped when the payment demand comes after the free trial is over.
Tips to safeguard yourself while video chatting
- If you are using the video chatting portal for conferences and meetings, ensure that the meetings are password-protected. If you are using a video chatting portal for socializing like Camfrog, then ensure that your profile is password protected. It should be a combination of letters, alphanumerics and numerics. Also, keep changing the password regularly.
- Most of the video chatting portals are end-to-end encrypted with proper security features in place but it is best not to divulge any personal information, especially in the first few interactions, such as private pictures, phone numbers and residential address.
- It is best not to download files in the form of videos, audios or pictures shared by strangers or people you have just met on these video chatting apps. First, get to know the person and understand his intentions; after you feel comfortable you can share files. If you are a part of a public chat room, it is best to avoid downloading files sent from strangers as it could be a virus or malware.
- If you are using the video chatting platform for official purposes, do not share meeting information like meeting ID and passwords on social media platforms even though it might be convenient. This could lead to malicious activity and disruptions.
- Use video chatting platforms that have good host controls so that you can moderate the meeting and allow or deny people from entering the meeting.
- Use the apps that have a waiting room or lobby facility. These waiting rooms give the hosts complete control over when and how many people can join the meeting at any point. It also lets the host know who all is trying to enter the meeting.
- Create a genuine profile after selecting the video chatting platform. In your profile, give a brief description of yourself; include your interests, likes and dislikes. This will help people know about you in brief before interacting with you. If you want to put up a picture in your profile, keep it casual and genuine. Also, in your profile, state the reason for joining the portal so that only similar-minded people will approach you. Also, communicate your expectations from people so that nobody is caught unaware. It will also help you sift out uninteresting people.
- Keep conversations casual in these virtual chatting apps because you do not know the person and their intentions well. It’s best to avoid serious discussions on religious matters and politics, as well as personal conversations in the first few interactions. Keep your chats fun, casual, and interactive; this will help keep your new friendships light and fun to start. Video chatting portals
like Camfrog also have a feature, Gifts and Stickers where you can send virtual gifts to one another; another great way to break the ice. You can also join public chat rooms to meet people with common interests.
- Conversations should be a two-way street where you listen as well as speak. Having healthy discussions on casual topics or sharing experiences is a great way to take virtual meet-ups to the next level. Try to find out more about the person you are chatting with, asking him/her about their interests, hobbies and more. Also, share your likes and dislikes with them. This will help you know the person better and faster.
- When you initiate a conversation with a stranger, always check out their friend list. Be wary if he/she has few friends or no pictures. If the person has pictures, check if there are other people in them and are they tagged. Most genuine profiles would have photos of people with others tagged in them.
- If you want to check if the picture posted in the profile is genuine, just drag and drop the picture of the person in the image search box and it will show where the image has been used. You can do the same with your image to ensure that it is not being misused anywhere.
Video chatting is a great way to find friends, network and work from home. With new feature-heavy video chatting portals, it feels like you are meeting the person in real life. This has brought some normalcy in the pandemic-hit life of social distancing and quarantine. However, these apps have breached security thresholds in the past, invading privacy and hacking accounts. Thus, it is pertinent to look beyond the glitter and glamour of a video chatting portal and do a thorough research while choosing them. Iron out all the doubts using this checklist and enjoy seamless and safe video chatting sessions.