Social media constitutes a significant part of the internet. With websites like YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook consuming massive amounts of data online, there is a social media website for whatever content or interest you desire.
However, social media has many dangers. From scams to fake accounts, users also need to worry about potential data leaks. The social media platform can misuse or abuse users' information in other cases.
Therefore, users must understand the dangers of social media. It is not only an addictive platform but also prone to many security and privacy risks.
How social media has become an essential public service
Surprisingly, social media has developed from a digital hangout spot to one of the most critical elements of businesses worldwide.
There are also various activities to make social media critical for daily life. People use it to access their favorite content online and discuss their interests and aspirations with experts worldwide.
Journalists often break their stories on social media before publishing them in their regular columns. Millions of people use services like Twitch and Reddit to make a career by showcasing their expertise to a global audience. Not to mention the various government sources that use social media to communicate their policies to the public. Many people use the internet to get information. However, many people also turn to social media as their primary source of news.
Common privacy threats on social media
While social media can expose you to thousands of threats every time you browse, a few are more prominent than others. Those can include the ones mentioned below.
Most hackers today exploit the cracks in the system to gain personal information. While most people attribute phishing attacks to cold calls, it is also popular on social media. In other cases, users leave themselves open to attacks. For instance, not using strong passwords and two-factor authentication make accounts much more vulnerable. Thus, the first thing for users to do is protect their accounts.
Harassment, identity theft, and cyberbullying
People on social media can hide under fake names and usernames. Then, the content they post can be offensive and harassing to other individuals. In the worst cases, social media can facilitate cyberbullying.
Malicious data mining
You might not give up your private information outright, yet data mining can make things easier. All it takes is to process a relevant data set through a series of filters to determine an individual's identity. With enough information, they can yield specific details such as the location and phone number of the victim.
Scams and misinformation
Widespread scams and misinformation are significant issues on social media. From fake offers on LinkedIn to false propaganda campaigns on WhatsApp, there are several ways scammers can get you to believe untrue facts, even with all the moderation present on the service.
How you can defend your privacy when using social media
Given the enormity of threats from social media, it helps to employ a few practical measures to secure your privacy online.
Check your privacy settings
You can examine your privacy settings to determine that you're only visible to those you know. Most social media platforms offer several features to limit your online visibility. You can also hire a technical expert to conduct penetration testing on your accounts, allowing you to measure how challenging it is to hack your account.
Install an advanced antivirus
While Windows Defender is adequate in most cases, installing an AI-based antivirus that receives regular updates is best. That way, your device is ready to take on the latest threats without burning your hard drive or SSD.
Remain vigilant about the latest scams
Knowledge is the most crucial weapon against hackers and digital scams. If you know how they operate, you can implement safeguards so that you don't run into them in the first place. It involves reading up on the latest technological trends, keeping aware of cybersecurity lapses, and studying them in detail so you're never a victim.
Refrain from sharing your personal info online
Hackers can't remotely access data that isn't stored online. Thus, it's best to exercise restraint when sharing your info online. As exciting as it sounds, you shouldn't post your vacation photos from your destination, as it indicates to the criminals that you've left your abode for at least a few days. In addition, experts advise not to interact with messages from unknown sources.
Use a reliable VPN service
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) redirects your internet connection through secure servers. That way, no one can pinpoint your location and network. In addition to hiding users' IP addresses, a VPN download gives you a highly beginner-friendly app. You only need to connect to VPN servers, and your internet traffic gets encrypted.
With the world becoming more connected to the internet by the day, it helps to have a practical guide to privacy on social media handy. Remember the mentioned tips and ensure that no one besides you can access your social media accounts. Also, take the time to review your current privacy settings. For instance, you do not want a social media service to share data with third parties.