A new survey from Visat Savings shows us that almost 50% of those examined keep their social media accounts in private mode, while the remaining half choose to remain open and public. What’s more, many people are keeping social media accounts and associated apps as a manner of convenience.
New generations view social media entirely differently. Suppose we ask them why they keep an app rather than delete it – most of them would say it was to stay connected with friends and family. At this point, only GenZ respondents were more inclined to keep certain apps simply because they use them to log into other social media platforms. Generation Z differs from other generations in that they view all these social media apps as online tools rather than as a means that helps us stay in touch with others.
One study found that 71% of respondents took their time to check their social media advanced privacy settings when they joined Facebook or Tweeter, which is a good sign that people actually take control over their privacy when given the opportunity.
Social media and privacy just don’t go together. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy online life and some degree of privacy.
Data mining remains the bread and butter of social media platforms. Your personal information is a gold mine for marketers who want to sell you services and goods. And data mining is one sure-way businesses harvest this abundance of information.
Data mining relies on an automated computer system to sort through data in order to identify trends and patterns. It’s often used to look into people’s behaviors and buying decisions based on past acquisitions where they usually travel or the events in their lives. In short, they do anything based on your data – tailor their services, analyze the market, serve ads, build business models, and more.
Some data you’ve given to them is personal, like your email address, email, date of birth, or location. However, other kinds of data, such as your photos, likes and dislikes, and posts can show them who you really are too, which is a gold mine for social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. Once you comply with their Terms and Conditions, they can:
Use this data to generate an accurate user profile to serve your targeted ads;
- Share data with their associates;
- Transfer your data to different locations and countries where privacy laws might be more tolerant;
- Use your photos or other kinds of data in their campaigns;
- Influence your opinion based on what you like and dislike
Privacy Setting Loopholes
We tend to jump in, sign up and add connections and friends at the speed of our connections – but how many of us really pay attention to the safety and security of the data we’re sharing? The last time you were asked to allow Instagram or Facebook page to “access our personal information and location,” did you let it?
Most social media companies revised their privacy policies as a response to stricter privacy regulations and laws in Europe. Social media platforms are now allowing you to tweak your settings and make your accounts more private. But adjusting your privacy settings doesn’t necessarily promise privacy. How?
Oftentimes, something you shared on a social media platform with a private group of friends allows them to share it with others. Let’s take Facebook. When you post something, your friend’s friends can see what you’ve posted, which might not be your intention. Not only that, but there is a good chance your friends might not even consider stringent privacy policies, meaning that others can now access data that was meant to stay within your friend’s circle.
How to Avoid “friendly” Scams?
Try to reduce the risk friends pose to your own social media account on these platforms; you should avoid accepting random persons’ connection requests. Make a routine from cleaning up your connection list and remove people that you’re not really interested in staying connected with.
Make sure you pay great attention to location settings when you use social media apps and sites. While platforms like 4Chan might require a VPN to pass the geoblocks and use the website, some might be already tracking your location even when you told them not to – as Google was caught doing last year. Read more to find out about location settings and how it can affect your privacy.
At first, your location might not look like a very valuable piece of information. But, when matched with your other personal data, it could help generate an even more accurate user profile. Stalkers, as well as real-life thieves, could use your location data. When someone already knows where you are at all times, they could easily break into your home or even follow you home.
Harassment, cyberbullying, and impersonation
Social media is well-deemed for its cyberstalkers and cyberbullies. Such perpetrators don’t even need to be professional hackers. They can be anyone they want – a jealous colleague sending you threatening messages or your child’s classmates bombarding them with disturbing comments. It could be your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend who shares sensitive information about you online or even entered into your account and messaged your friends and colleagues to mess with your social life or personal life.
Use a VPN
Most social media apps that are available for mobile devices are generally encrypted with an end-to-end encryption system. It means that the content of the communication can only be seen by users who initiate communication. While it might be generally safe to use such communication channels without an added encryption, a VPN is still necessary to protect the network, these apps rely on to send the messages back and forth.
Use a strong password
Simply using your name and 123 is not enough to protect yourself from hackers or cyberbullies as they can easily go through all these basic patterns. To come up with a stronger password, make sure you have both lower- and upper-case characters, at least three numbers, at least one special character, and make it at least eight characters long.
Use two levels of authentification
The password, regardless of how difficult, it can always be cracked if an experienced hacker decides to visit your social media account. There are many different second-level authentication methods that you can rely on at this stage. For instance, you can have a unique key sent to you on your smartphone, which you will need to input to log in, or can have the website you’re using and ask you the special question.