The risks of using social media
Social media platforms are everywhere and seem to be able to do anything. They connect us to those we cannot be with personally. They travel the distance without seeming to cost anything at all to the user unless you opt to buy certain voluntary perks. They can allow voice and video chats to make the contact much more personal, but there are also hidden dangers lurking in these applications that you may not be aware of.
Most parents are aware of child predators lurking on these sites. Unfortunately, these types of sites make it incredibly easy for someone to lie about their true identity. They can change their age, their looks, or anything about themselves; they wish to keep their identity hidden. Many people believe that they can be tracked using an IP address, yet companies are notorious for refusing to step in and supply that information when a situation arises. They will say that they are protecting user confidentiality and absolve themselves of any wrongdoing by pointing to the disclaimer everyone signs but very few read! Most of these disclaimers will have a section dedicated to the fact that said social platform is in no way responsible for the way that the users of that platform chose to use it. In a rational world, that makes sense. These platforms have thousands, if not millions, of users, and chasing down one user can be difficult. The only sure-fire way to protect your child is by monitoring what they do and who they speak to when on these sites and by educating your child on what to be wary of.
Beware of Scams
The next very real danger is identity theft and scams. Please always be aware that no social media platform will have a representative contact you and ask you for your confidential information or the password for your account. If anyone contacts you seeking these details, it is likely a scam and should be reported. Additionally, no individual should be contacting you to request your bank details or anything like this. Again, if someone does, it is a scam. Never give out any personal information.
Advertisements & Collecting Your Data
These are all hidden dangers, but there are some other things you might not be aware of while using these sites. All of these sites are no cost, or mostly free, and yet they are considered multi-million figure companies. You need to stop and ask yourself why that is. How can a non-profit business be making so much? The answer is ad revenue. You see, each of these sites collect data on you each time you use them. They watch what you do, what other sites you visit, and what times you are on. They monitor what you purchase as well. In this way, they can offer you ads directed towards your interest. Every time you click an ad they present you with and buy a product on the page it takes you to, that social site gets a percentage of that sale since they sent you there.
It does not stop there, however. They do not just show you ads. Most of these companies sell your information to third parties. What’s more, you authorised them to do so when you signed that waiver upon your initial start up. That is why, at times you will get advertisements in your e-mail from seemingly nowhere, and yet they know just what you were looking for. They know because one of the social sites you visit told them that you were interested in their product.
Let’s dig even deeper. Sometimes a company looks for a certain type of person. Someone they know they can market to. That decision can be based on sex, religion, how much money you make, where you work, and even your sexual preferences. These social sites compile all of this data and then peddle it to the relevant companies, meaning your information can be sold to hundreds of businesses without you knowing. Hail the flood of obnoxious emails, all promising services you cannot live without.
So what can you do about this? In truth, nothing can be done to stop it. As long as you use these sites, they will continue to collect and sell your information. What you can do is limit your information. When these sites ask you personal questions, refuse to answer them. No one says you have to answer such questions. Keeping a limited profile also helps, because they do not have access to your personal information at their fingertips. If you want to buy a product, note the site and bring it up in your browser independently rather than clicking any links to take you there.
Doing the above things will help to limit what information these companies can and cannot collect about you. The only sure way of stopping it from happening is to not be online at all, which is just not very likely in our computer-driven world. Another excellent way to protect yourself is to make sure you have a good firewall and antivirus installed on your computer. That will stop malicious programs from digging through your computer to find bank account numbers and other vital information.
Make sure any site or page you use is verified and secure when making transactions. If you are unsure, contact the site you are using and ask about the page. It is much better to ask questions and be safe rather than sorry later. Many companies have made fake sites. Sites designed to look like the real application, and yet they are not. They are only there to scam you and take your information.
The best advice, be very aware. Know what you are putting out there. Anything you add to a social site can, and at times will be used against you. Social sites are wonderful if used properly, but they can be devastating when we realise something terrible has happened, so know the facts and protect yourself and your family.