The growth of social media has changed the way businesses and individuals see communication and entertainment. For business owners, social media platforms offer a host of opportunities, from brand-building to engaging customers. Researches say that individuals on social media are perceived receptive, especially when these users are active on these platforms for hours each day. 

And for entrepreneurs targeting the Generation X market (ages 35 to 49), using social media is a golden opportunity, since this group spends more time than millennials online. And for the individuals, rise in popularity of social media platforms is one of the best things to happen in recent years. With social media, communication and entertainment changed for the better, allowing users to connect and educate, democratizing access to information. Social movements too have started on social media, making it a potent tool for empowerment. 

Although social media has redefine our lifestyle and made access to information easier, it also comes with pitfalls. Since anyone with e-mail can create an account in these platforms with limited monitoring from the website, it’s now a fertile ground for threats. Listed below are 5 common threats to your security when using social media.

Identity theft

The main principle behind many social media platforms is to share. Users are known to share their interests and passion, and in the hope of starting a conversation online. Unfortunately, many social media users take ‘sharing’ to a different level- they end up sharing all kinds of sensitive information, including complete address and birthday which are used in identity theft. And even if you limit the information that you share online, hackers are known to employ different ways on how to access your information. A popular trick is to click ‘Forgot Password’, and they will try to recover the personal information using e-mail. Once the hacker managed to break into your e-mail, then it will be easier for them to gain entry to your social media profiles, and even steal your identity to make purchases. To avoid this, make sure to update your passwords regularly, and be careful with your status updates.

Twitter instant followers, instant headache

Who does not want more followers to show on the Twitter feed? Whether you are building a brand or simply want to gain more friends and exposure, a few more followers on Twitter will not hurt. This is the main reason why many Twitter users fall to this trap, advertising a feature that allows you to gain more followers. Clicking on this app or service will not help you; instead, it will send make your account send out more of these spam messages. Don’t be part of the spam problem- make sure you sure about the links and apps that you want to click on. Also, before logging into your social media account, make sure you are in the right platform. Be aware when using social media, and always learn the best online security tricks.

Hacked social media account

No one is safe from social media account hacking, even established business owners and online media fall prey to the exploits of hackers. New York Times, the leading US newspaper, reported a hack on their Twitter profile, which was reported by CNN. Even the Turner-run company was not spared from a hacking incident. The most recent hack made on CNN was completed last January 2017, and this was owned by OurMine. If these established (and secure sites) are hacked, then personal accounts can be compromised too. Social media users are advised to secure their accounts, making sure that they will not fall to the usual traps.

Naked video scam on Facebook

Trust the words ‘nudity and video scandal’ to go viral, anytime. Although this announcement on Facebook will make you notice, please don’t just click on this advertisement or message since this is a fake messaged aimed at spreading malware. Once you click on this advertisement, you will be transferred to a fake YouTube website, where you will be prompted by a message that the Adobe Player has crashed, and that it needs an update. Install it, and your computer will be infected, compromising your Facebook pictures and security.

Allowing burglars and thieves to learn your schedule

Sharing is life in social media, but over-sharing can put your home (and family) at risk. The problem with many social media users is that they over-share, thus inviting burglars at home. They end up sharing that the family will be out for vacation for weeks, or that they have purchased a few expensive items. Letting the world know where you are or your plans can put yourself and the family at risk. Remember, these criminals love your updates, so better keep it to yourself, or at least keep your posts open to friends only.

Social networks are here to stay, and it can change the way you live, work and communicate. But make sure that you use it responsibly, keeping in mind that threats are anywhere, and no one is safe.