Social media, like many other innovations, does have flaws and while the consequences of these flaws have proven to be devastating, abolishing social media from our lives is far from a viable solution in today's world. As the name suggests this platform is integrated into our social lives and makes up an important part of our communication system. Almost everyone has an account these days and posting pictures of vacations, achievements and cute pet animals is a compulsion imposed by friends and family as they give in to the social conventions.
Social media is also widely used for business and marketing purposes and some individuals out there have made social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat their main sources of income by posting content and subsequently earning revenue which is dependent on the number of followers they have.
Does social media pose a risk?
Short answer- yes, yes it does! But let's get to it.
With the many cyber-crimes increasing in recent times, crimes such as hacking of accounts, phishing attacks, cyber bullying, and unauthorized usage of data, it is high time for us to be a little more cautious and aware of what we put out into the internet and educate ourselves well enough to detect any suspicious activities. These crimes stem from the data that we put onto these platforms followed by unfiltered access to our profiles.
Social media security
Let's talk Facebook first-
The Mammoth of the social media platform.
With over two billion Facebook users it's safe to say there is a lot of data that goes into the hands of Facebook employees. To put things into perspective we have to acknowledge the fact that Facebook is now our default as-is for almost everybody on the social media front. There is raising awareness amongst most users on how their data is used or in other cases exposed to unwanted attention.
Some of the cases of data exploitation make us think if this free online communication platform is the product or are we a product to this platform?
Here some ways you can keep your data safe on Facebook:
Setup 2FA: Two-factor authentication ensures only you can log into your account.
What is 2FA?
Two-factor authentication is a second layer of security to your account, for example, a face ID or a fingerprint ID.
If you are checking into your account from any other device than your personal devices, do not check 'Keep me logged in'.
Don't play it cool, if you see something suspicious make sure to report it.
This one is fairly standard but people often ignore, do not accept friend requests from unknown accounts even if there are common friends.
Moving on to the bluebird, Twitter-
Twitter has put a spin on how we see news articles.
It's all about those short bursts of news and controversial statements, but overall Twitter has come to be a game-changer in news delivery. Not to mention, the hilarious use of puns and wits when it comes to movie releases and product launches by companies that have kept us on our heels.
To its unfortunate ignorance towards the safety of data and abuse of fringe ideologies, Twitter has definitely brought about a change to the platform of social media.
Let's get to some methods you can use to safeguard yourself:
Keep a track on third-party apps that have access to your Twitter account, some of them allow data flow. So, it’s always better to limit the capabilities of these apps.
You check the 'Settings & Privacy' of your account and choose 'Protect my account' for added privacy. This allows only approved followers to view what you share.
Don't accept or click direct messages from unknown accounts. Make sure to report if the messages proceed to ask for personal information.
Always logout from the devices that are not your personal or home devices.
It's all in the picture, Instagram-
Instagram is considered one of the most popular social media sites in recent times. It allows the sharing of pictures, videos, stories, and hashtags. Instagram defines communication and publicity in modern times.
This platform encourages viewers to explore beautiful photography, art, sport, fashion, and also acts as a platform to inform and voice out.
With the wide areas of media that Instagram covers it is almost certain that it is vulnerable to infringement of data. Followed with the massive users it has, privacy is a concern.
How do we protect ourselves:
Enable 2FA( Two-Factor authentication)
Don't geotag your location.
Set a unique password and if possible consider changing it from time to time.
Keep your personal accounts checked in as private and do not accept follow requests from unknown accounts, not even from the ones that have common followers unless you know the owner of the account. Many people ignore this precaution for the sake of more followers; from now let's hold back on that.
Do not refrain from blocking accounts or reporting them. It is not uncommon and in no way a wrong thing to do if you feel your account or data is being misused or manipulated.
Let's now talk about some of the ways you can keep your other social media accounts safe, that is not mentioned above in the list. These methods can be used in general to safeguard yourselves on social media platforms.
How to keep your social media accounts safe:
Hide your activity status
On many social networking sites, people can see if you're online, offline, or the last time you were active. Many social media platforms allow you to disable this feature if you do not want people to know your activity status.
To turn this off:
Tap the profile tab.
Hit the menu button.
Scroll to down and turn off Activity Status.
Stay off the grid
Many of the social media apps use the current location, for reasons such as delivering location-specific ads or notifications of events happening in a particular area. They can also share your location with people who are following you, this you might not always want. Snapchat is a good example of this, to turn this off you can toggle the Ghost Mode on.
Always be selective with your audience
Stories are one of the fastest ways of posting stuff on your account that disappear after some time. You might not want everybody to view your post, by using the settings it is possible to limit your audience. This also applies to general posts.
You can enable this by tagging some of your friends and family as close friends or specific friends.
Use a separate e-mail for your social media accounts
Usually while creating accounts we tend to use our personal email address, we can change this habit by using a separate account to sign in to social media. By this, we prevent exposing other details in case our social media accounts are hacked which is a prominent risk at the moment.
Use a VPN
A VPN or virtual private network is a service that gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. VPNs are used to mask your internet protocol (IP) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable. These services establish secure and encrypted connections to provide greater privacy than even a secured Wi-Fi hotspot. In the present era, almost everyone has a VPN service that helps protect one's data. If you don't have a VPN you should consider getting one.
These steps will make your social media experience more secure and consider sharing this information with your friends to create an aware atmosphere in which we can look out for each other.