Thanks to social media, we are now able to connect to the world in ways we never thought possible. Whether you are writing on your friend’s wall on Facebook, texting or tweeting, there is always a way to communicate and most of us don’t think twice before doing so. However, did you ever consider that you may not be communicating with the right person or that what you are tweeting may be used against you at work next week? Unless you have experienced the dangers of social media firsthand, these thoughts have probably never crossed your mind.
The Dangers Of The Public Domain:
Are photos ever put up of you on Facebook that represent you in a way that may get you fired from your job or in trouble at school? Did you ever update your twitter status and write something that was not necessarily PG-13? You may not think twice before posing for a picture or updating your status, but this could backfire. When something is posted online, it is permanent and open to the public eye. Even on certain applications, your privacy settings may limit who can see your profile, but your friends profile may not be limited and what if they display a negative photo of you? There isn’t much you can do about that. Larry Johnson of the Kansas City Chiefs recently experienced the dangers of the public domain firsthand when he decided to use twitter to tweet some comments that were not necessarily “politically correct”. Once his tweets were out there, they drew more attention than Johnson had intended , which has resulted in his release from the team. In today’s world we need to be extra careful when doing something that could land us as victim of the dangers of social media.
Social media platforms have made many of us more vulnerable to identify theft. By providing too much information on sites such as Facebook and My Space, many of us are making it simple for criminals to create false identities and access our bank accounts. Have you ever received a message on Facebook asking you to verify your Bank of America account number and password? I have certainly received messages similar to this. Although I do not fall for these counterfeit messages, a user new to the world of social media may not think twice before giving out their information. With the increase in identity theft now a days, users of any type of social media networking sites need to be extra cautious with what information they provide to the public.
Who are you really connecting with?
Are you sure Twitter user Soccer452 is really your best friend Suzie? What if it is somebody pretending to be Suzie? Celebrities have so many users trying to impersonate them on twitter that they are now given verified accounts to help the twitter community decipher the authentic accounts from the phony ones. What about on Facebook? I don’t think twice before accepting a Facebook user who has requested to be my friend. However, there have been incidents where Facebook users have been impersonated. Take for example, the tale of Facebook user Bryan Rutberg. In January ’09, an unknown user got in his account and updated Bryan’s status to say “Bryan NEEDS HELP URGENTLY!!!” The unknown user then sent one of Rutberg’s Facebook friends a direct message saying that Rutberg was robbed at gunpoint in London and needed money in order to return to the United States. Rutberg’s friend wired him over one thousand dollars thinking he was helping him out. Meanwhile, Rutberg was safe at home during this whole incident and the money was never to be seen again. Impersonating people on social media platforms is becoming more and more common these days. Although the warning signs may not be clear, we need to always be on our toes when trying to connect with our friends.
Social media has changed most of our lives for the better. It helps us maintain relationships with family and friends, promote our brands and products, and communicate more clearly across borders. However, we need to make sure to be very careful when using any form of social media and watch out for the danger signs. For brands, the ramifications are multiplied. With more people and resources on the line, it’s crucially important that brands know what they are doing when enacting a social strategy. With the typical faceless brand, people often lose sight that a brand is really just one face for an entire community of people and treat brands even less respectfully online. Vigilance and foresight are the only winning strategies.
The two biggest pieces of advice that can be given to any user of social media to protect yourself, whether you’re an individual or a representative of a brand, are the following: Make sure to be careful of what information you put out there else it may come back to haunt you later, and do your diligence when connecting with others. Getting your safety squared away first allows you the freedom to reap the multitude of benefits of the social sphere.