From Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and TikTok, social media has taken over the lives of 3.8 billion citizens on this planet, creating some of the largest and most powerful communities on earth.
They have made it possible to reconnect with old classmates from high school and to keep in touch with friends and family. Social media has become an essential tool for brands around the world to reach their consumers and has even given the opportunity for ordinary people to create powerful brands.
These platforms have also mobilized communities to stand together and create a voice for justice, peace, and human rights. And they have become a great medium for entertainment, and to stay ahead of the news, latest trends, and gossip. The power of social media is undeniable and their importance to modern-day life is unmatched by any other medium.
But they have also given rise to darker and more sinister activities, putting you at risk in ways unimaginable. And turning a blind eye to these could have far-reaching consequences.
But what’s so sinister about social media?
As with everything else, there’s a darker side to social media hidden away from its everyday users. The very tools and features that bring you all its wonders can also be used to create instant darkness if you’re not careful.
Here are the top risks attached to social media that you need to guard against.
From identity theft to financial fraud, social media is a haven for cyber scams. Malware attacks disguised with a gossip headline or a viral video are popular menaces on social platforms. Then let’s not forget the romance scams. According to a 2020 report by the FTC, more than $200 million was lost last year because of them.
Trollers are individuals who deliberately leave offensive or upsetting comments to create trouble and draw attention. This can become a common nuisance with the popularity of social media. But it can also leave victims psychologically tormented and even in danger.
Data theft can happen due to a deliberate attack on your account or on the social media platform as a whole and can leave you vulnerable to many unforeseen dangers. But largely unknown to you, social media sites are also monitoring and tracking your data and sharing them with third parties. The Cambridge Analytica scandal surrounding Facebook is a good example of this.
According to one report, 59% of teenagers have faced online bullying or harassment. Cyberbullying is a growing problem, especially among kids and teenagers, and can have a far worse impact than even schoolyard bullying.
Social media allows anyone to easily intrude into the personal lives of others. This makes it far easier to stalk users in the digital environment than in the real world.
So, what can you do?
Sometimes the most effective steps are the easiest and simplest. And an extra bit of precautions can go a long way. So, here are some essential tips so you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of malicious activities on social media.
1. Keep a tight social circle
Many people are in the habit of accepting invitations to connect from total strangers so they can boost their network and follower base. This is one of the easiest ways to expose yourself to danger.
So guard your social circles and limit them to your friends, family, and colleagues. But there will be moments when you’ll need to connect with unfamiliar individuals. In instances like these, check their profiles first and look for common connections. And Nuwber can help you run a quick background search so you know exactly who you’re dealing with.
2. Watch what you share
Oversharing is another common mistake of many social media users that can make them an easy target. So, avoid sharing personal or confidential information such as your home address, phone number, and other identifiable details. This also applies to photos you share, your likes, and even the comments you leave.
3. Password security
Weak passwords can make hackers’ lives so much easier and give them instant access to your social media accounts. And once they gain access, it’s a gold mine of data with limitless possibilities for unscrupulous activities.
So, use strong passwords and activate two-factor authentication for added security. Keep separate passwords for each account, change them regularly, and never share with anyone.
4. Social media settings
Social media settings will allow you to keep your accounts private, preventing search engines from accessing your profiles for search results. And many social media sites provide other useful features for your safety. These can include blocking users outside your network from viewing your profile or commenting on your posts and even following you. So, make use of them. And don’t forget to check the social media platform’s data protection and sharing policies.
5. Limit your social activities
It’s tempting to make your presence on every popular platform. But remember that all the accounts and profiles you create will add more of your personal information to the cyberspace. So, limit your activities to a few social platforms, and deactivate accounts that you rarely use.
6. Use a VPN
A VPN can protect you from any unwanted prying and tracking of social media activities. Avoid public Wi-Fi networks at any cost and opt for a personal hotspot using your mobile data instead.
7. Stay vigilant
Whatever you do, remain vigilant. Think twice before responding to messages and avoid engaging with anyone that displays offensive or suspicious behavior. If you pay heed to your instinct, it can save you from many potential dangers. And if you sense anything unusual or suspicious, alert others and take immediate action.
For now, there’s little you can do to prevent this darker side of social media. But remember that there are plenty of effective measures you can take to protect yourself.