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How to watch out for social media landmines

How to watch out for social media landmines
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Social media were not created for evil purposes but they can be also used by a variety of individuals for the wrong reasons.

Social media sites provide people with an easy way to stay connected with family members and friends, but some users have abused its purpose by engaging in certain activities that are harmful, either to themselves or some other users.

A mobile user using Facebook App
A mobile user using Facebook App of the popular social media network

In addition to the disclosure of private information by either yourself or friends/contacts, encountering comments that are violent, sexual, extremist or racist in nature, or offensive activities and hateful attitudes, there are four basic risks of social networking we need to be mindful of.

Social media landmine called ‘Phishing’ 

Phishing is the attempt to obtain sensitive information from someone’s online account, such as usernames, passwords, and other details, often for malicious reasons, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

Communications purporting to be from popular social media websites, auction sites, banks, online payment processors or IT administrators are commonly used to lure unsuspecting victims.

Phishing has become a social engineering technique used to deceive social media users, and exploits the poor usability of current web security technologies. Phishing is mostly carried out by email spoofing or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter details at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one. Those who engage in this act mostly get to do that allegedly through social networking sites, but actually encouraging you to visit fraudulent or inappropriate websites.

Bullying in schools pours over to bullying at home in the form of Facebook threats, insulting tweets and constant insulting and threatening text messages.

Social media landmine called ‘Hijacking of Accounts’

Account hijacking is a process through which an individual’s social media account, or any other account associated with a computing device or service, is stolen or hijacked by a hacker. It is a type of identity theft in which the hacker uses the stolen account information to carry out malicious or unauthorized activity. In many cases, such criminals make posts and other updates on an innocent persons account in the name of that person, and many people associated to the account will think it is coming from the owner of the account.

Activities at the Lagos Social Media Week
Activities at the Lagos Social Media Week

Social media landmine called ‘Cyberbullying’

This is another trending problem of social media. In the old days, before social media, a bullied child would at least normally be safe at home from the bullies. But now, they get no respite at all. Bullying in schools pours over to bullying at home in the form of Facebook threats, insulting tweets and constant insulting and threatening text messages. Without meaning anything, kids can easily share more online than they should.

According to a recent research study by Kaspersky Lab, 16% of the children surveyed are more afraid of being bullied online than offline, while half (50%) are equally afraid of both real-life and virtual bullying.

The study also showed that “in 7 out of 10 cases of Cyberbullying, the consequences were traumatic. Bullying on the Internet seriously affected their emotional well-being: parents of 37% of the victims reported lower self-esteem, 30% saw deterioration in their performance at school, and 28% cited depression. In addition, 25% of parents stated that cyber bullying had disrupted their child’s sleep patterns and caused nightmares (21%). Another 26% of parents noticed that their child had started avoiding contact with other children, and 20% discovered their child had anorexia.”

To help reduce this problem, parents should always try to review their children’s interactions with social media. Save and review internet history listings in your browsers. Learn how to review the log files that are generated by your browsers and operating systems. Everything you need to know is probably there and don’t be afraid to block websites.

Social media landmine called ‘Time Wasting’ 

Time is valuable, which means we shouldn’t spend too much of it on social media just interacting and viewing people’s posts, which may offer no return for our attention. Social media forces us to waste time with these sorts of things. While not undermining the power of social media, it is good to re-examine the amount of time we spend on it and make an honest determination to allocate only the necessary amount of time for it.

It is very important to be mindful of these risks. Even though some might seem subtle, they can be very harmful. Keep yourself safe too. Watch who you interact with. Too many bad stories out there begin with the words ‘They met on the internet’.

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Success Kafoi Journalist at Technology Times Media. Mobile: 08077671673 email: success.kafoi@technologytimes.ng

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