Word travels very fast when it comes to social networks, and these days, just about everyone is either on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, or other sites that call for social engagement via real-time newsfeeds and multimedia posts. Social networks envelop not only virtual spaces where one shares updates to friends, but also a platform that can reveal even the most intimate posts to parents, relatives, church group, or bosses and colleagues in your network.
Maintaining one’s privacy on social networks has been an ongoing fuel for discussion. Every little update that social networks modify on their policies almost always calls for various opinions about the safety of one’s privacy and information. Here's a list of some of the more common threats to those using social networks and how best to avoid them, in case of abuse:
(photo source: SXC.hu)
Threats to Personal Information
If we were all to live by a no-regrets rule when it comes to social media, we would be more careful what we share or post. Make a mental note of the information that social networks ask for, such as your whole name, location, educational background, affiliations, and other pertinent details. If you were to make a dossier out of all the information you have ever shared on various social networks, you would probably be holding on to a pretty sizeable folder filled with important personal information. Anyone who may not be your friend can just gather all info from your profiles, including your photos. That could be pretty handy when it comes to credit card fraud or even stalking. Your friends can also be conned using your profile, as fraudsters were able to accomplish before.
Check out the privacy settings that you have on your social networks. Many public profiles can be tweaked to provide only minimal details for those who are not in your network. In case you want to avoid trouble in case someone tries to get into your contacts’ accounts to access yours, there are also ways to further limit who sees sensitive areas of your profile, such as your birthday or phone number.
(photo source: SXC.hu)
Threats on Computer Systems
Social networks are also prime breeding grounds for malware and threats to computer systems. Cybercriminals these days are clever enough to create social engineering lures in the form of interesting tidbits, such as the latest news, celebrity updates, or viral clickbait articles. Sometimes, a wrong click on a very enticing link is all it takes to be infected with malicious software that can snoop inside your computer or mobile device.
To prevent this, always check where links go before you click, by hovering over them and looking at the lower left corner of the browser screen for the complete address. If the address shows a website different from what’s on screen, be very careful as you could be redirected to questionable websites that can download malware and other threats. Also, watch what kind of apps, games, or services you allow to access your profile page as these might cause you to lose control of your account or victimize those in your network. The National Cyber Security Alliance has some tips on how you can stay safe and virus-free on social media.
(photo source: SXC.hu)
Threats to Your Career
It’s never a good idea to rant on Facebook. Specifically, it’snever a good idea to rant about your company, clients, bosses, or co-workers on any form of social network that they can follow or view. These days, a simple rant can be the social equivalent of a slap in your boss’s face. A series of tweets, edited memes, or Facebook posts can build a case for the human resource department to have reason to kick you out of the company. Many of us already know this, though there’s a still quite a number who had to learn their lesson the hard way—and ending up on a news section just for those fired over Facebook.
There are a number of ways to prevent this. You can limit your social media networkto includecertain people, though figuring out who to trust is another issue altogether. You can create groups where you and your friends are free to rant behind the public eye and free of charge. However, building groups doesn’t mean you’re safe from glitches that might automatically publish those messages. One surefire way to avoid this is to step as far away as you can from social media during times like these and dealing with your anger in a more professional manner—by actually talking to your boss or co-worker to resolve the issue.
Overall, these threats are real-life indicators of what you stand to lose with the improper or mindless use of social networks. It always pays to be on guard, even while working or having fun.