Social Media has drastically changed the way people interact with their friends, associates, and family members. Although social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn, play a major role in our day to day lives, I have also come to discover that they could also pose serious privacy risks. When using these social media sites, it’s quite important to know and understand the privacy risks involved.
Privacy Risks on Social Media
Nowadays, hackers prowl social media looking for victims. They tend to use the shortened URLs like those which are created with bit.ly or cutt.ly. They use these shortened URLs to trick their victims into visiting harmful sites or install viruses/spyware into their computers or mobile phones. Hackers also use spyware which they can easily install on your mobile phone, laptop, etc remotely via downloads, emails, shortened URLs, or instant messages. The spyware gives the hacker information about the passwords you use on your social media networks and other accounts that you access online. The simplest way to avoid being a victim is to never click on links unless you’re sure of the actual source.
Sharing personal information on popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter has become a social trend user’s feel comfortable about sharing their private life online but the issues of privacy online remains. A case study revealed that users of social networking sites have now become more open and share personal information online with many people.
This may have become a social trend in modern times but users should keep in mind that information can be kept between online disclosures of personal information and privacy
Social media sites utilize mobile apps and location-based services to allow users to check-in at their current locations. This normally reveals the user’s current location to the people they are connected with within their social media network. The information posted can be easily used by malicious people to track your whereabouts. Moreover, telling the online community where you are, or where you are going to, can end up inviting burglars and thieves to your home or business. For instance, by posting your current location and saying that you are on a long vacation in Australia, you will be letting the potential burglars or/and thieves know exactly where you are, and how long you will be gone. To mitigate such risks, you should avoid posting your travel plans, and using location-based services.
Potential Danger due to Privacy Attacks
- Personal Identity Theft
- Sexual Predators
- Unintentional fame
- Online Victimization
- Surveillance attack
- Location Updates
Privacy Statement regarding Terms & Conditions
One of the main concerns that people have with their security is the ignorance of the policies statements and settings in the social media networks. It is often placed in areas hard to get attention, like the bottom left or right corner of the screen. Another concern is the lack of information that users get from the companies when there is a change in their policies. They always focus more on informing users about new updates of sites, but it is difficult to get information about these changes in policies.
Most social networking sites require users to agree to the Terms and conditions of User policies before they use their services on the internet. Controversially, these Terms and conditions of User declarations that users must agree to often contain statement permitting operators to keep data of users and even share it with third parties. Some popular social networking sites such as Facebook have attracted attention over its major policies regarding data storage, holding onto data after an account is de-activated, making it difficult to delete an account, and being caught sharing personal data with third parties. Look for questions such as who owns the data that user posts or made public? What happens to the personal data when the user account is closed?
The increase in the number of users of social networking sites has tempted developers to ask for more and more data for better user-base management and a better experience for the consumer of data. This data is the main source of income for the sites by selling them to advertisers. Moreover, the real deal is they are prone to get hacked or made public. That is where the issue arises. Nowadays, networking sites have become such a big platform that people take their data security for granted. New features are now a regular update, and as they keep coming, with the regular updates there should be regular security updates also. For example, location-based services -they are very helpful, though very innovative and somewhat helpful at times of need, but they make daily routines public. Actually, the main responsibility here is on the heads of the developers of these sites they have to be extra careful while developing the security patches and security keys for the sites to be vulnerable to hack and data theft.
Some people might think that online privacy is a private matter. If you don’t want your information getting out online simply just don’t put it on social media. But keeping your information private isn’t just about your own choices of interest. It’s about your friends’ choices, too. Results from a study on social media sites show that the inhabitants of the digital age may need to stop and think about just how much they control their personal information over the internet, and where the boundaries of their own privacy are.
Basic tips to stay away from Privacy Thefts
- Keep checking your privacy settings regularly. Always keep your mobile phones to the latest security patches.
- Always create strong passwords with special characters and use different passwords for different sites.
- Ensure that people you connect to and follow as friends must be known to you.
- Always analyze your post before posting it on any social media platform.
- Never enter/ click on suspicious advertisements and links provided on sites.
- Always keep an anti-virus installed and updated on your computer/ phone.
- Never leave a site logged in.