The Covid-19 pandemic has forced most anyone with network access online, and platforms that were previously viewed as a backup are now on the front lines. Zoom in particular has seen a huge uptick in broad use, in business, education, and personal circles. TechCrunch highlights the fact that users may not be getting what they think (e.g. end-to-end encryption), and Zoom has seen a number of security and related questions over the last year.
Case in point is the Mac app. It turns out you actually don’t have to download the app to Zoom (you can use a browser), but Zoom has a “dark patterns” approach to UI/UX (I wrote previously about dark patterns here). They want you to download and install the app as they can then control the experience, and arguably provide a better user experience. But in tech, it often isn’t what you do but rather how upfront you are about what you’re doing. Because at some point, someone is going to figure out if you’re doing something questionable.
This isn’t to say that one should avoid Zoom at all costs. Much to the contrary, for multi-user video conferencing, it performs quite well. Rather we need to pay attention to what the companies are doing behind the scenes and make an informed decision on the best tool.