Why Pioneer Academics is recklessly dangerous

This is going to be an article about how Pioneer Academics handles the data that you give them. When you sign up for Pioneer Academics they'll ask for your phone number, email address, parents' names, email addresses and phone numbers as well. When you work there they ask employees the same thing. The data is put into an excel file which is shared among employees. I was not informed about this when I was asked for this information.

The employees who have access to the files are numerous to say the least but I can't give an exact number. What I can say is that the employees who are hired are never asked to sign NDAs, and are numerous due to the high turnover rate.

When employees are hired they are hired at an excess of 80% hire rate. I was really surprised at how high the hire rate was, while at other companies I worked at the hire rate was around only 1/6 employees or 1/10. I really thought the time I was hired that Pioneer Academics had just started out, which is why there were so many open spots open. What I didn't realize was the poor conditions of working and abuse of employees which led to many people quitting or contracts terminated without warning, very often because any employee that asked for better treatment or better time management from the management were immediately fired. Management accepted no complaints.

This is relevant because the high turnover rate increases the number of people who have access to this data. The fact that none are asked to sign NDAs, go through background checks, and because of random termination may lead to the selling of this data online, to recuperate money that was not paid to these employees. When I worked with Pioneer I had access to all types of sensitive data, Pioneer does not know anything about who I am.

Furthermore, Pioneer Academics records all meetings, of which employees have access to. The platform which is used has access to your face, and anything that is recorded or said will be used for AI training. The data is stored permanently. There is no privacy. This worries me because when I had calls with the students some of them did reveal some private information. Nothing that was terribly drastic, but it did worry me the things that they would tell me and that the companies would then have access and recordings of this. I recommend that anyone who does use Pioneer Academics not say any personal information at all, ever and is very, very careful.

You should be careful giving personal information away, because you will be asked. Pioneer Academics PCAs are taught to try to extract personal information from students. I was asked every meeting I had with them to try to find out things about their personal life, which I felt very uncomfortable with, and to be honest I tried my best to avoid directly asking them about this because I knew their data was not safe. Other than that, I just felt really uncomfortable with trying to extract information from students when they didn't know probably how their information was handled. The entire situation was extremely uncomfortable for me.

All the video recordings of the students, the phone numbers, email addresses, the school that the students went to, the parents' phone numbers, email addresses, were all information that can be sold online which worried me greatly. Anyone could have access to this data, and knowing all this information might allow nefarious persons to contact students under the guise of knowing them, knowing their parents because otherwise how would they have this information? It is also easy for these people to find students in their areas because the location of the students is revealed.

Pioneer Academics operates on a platform called schoology. If you've recognized the platform appears to be an html page from the early 2000s. Despite charging students nearly 6500 usd each for participation in the program, they have yet to update the platform. I can't speak to the security of the platform, but I wouldn't be surprised based on what I already know, and how cavalier and casual Pioneer Academics is with student data that this data would be insecure as well, and easy to hack.

This last bit just a hunch though, as I never tried to explicitly hack schoology, or had access to their code base. This is just my inference from how Pioneer Academics has acted so far.

Either way, I would avoid Pioneer Academics, not only because of its high cost, but because of how unsafe it is. It could potentially put your entire family in danger, and especially your kids.

It is much better to try to apply to research labs directly, this will gain you better experience. For college credit, attending community college would be a better option, as per credit it is much, much cheaper, around 10-20% the cost per credit of Pioneer Academics.

I hope this article has helped inform you. Please share this with your friends and colleagues that might consider joining in order to keep them safe while offering cheaper, more legitimate alternatives.

Link about privacy policy of zoom: https://twitter.com/kepano/status/1688606865058574339


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