Dangers of Social Media to Online Consumers

Dangers of Social Media to Online Consumers

By: Emma Kavanagh

Social media is a great form of communication. However, it also opens you up to a lot of dangers. With so many possible threats, it’s important to know what can happen when you use social media regularly.

Identity Theft

Image via Flickr by IntelFreePress

Approximately 9 million people get their identity stolen each year. While not all of this can be attributed to social media, some of it can. Too many people put personal information on their social media accounts. This can easily lead to identity theft. The point of social networking and social media sites is to connect with other people. Because of this, you’re likely to have a lot of identifying information.

You may have your children’s names in posts, the town you currently live in, or the one you grew up in. Even worse, some people have their cell phone numbers available for all to see on their Facebook accounts. All of this information can be used to identify you and help steal
your identity.

Viruses Through Social Media Posts

Along with identity theft, another danger of social media that many see is the introduction of viruses to their computers. These viruses come in many different forms. Generally, viruses that get on your computer due to social media accounts are from links in status updates, tweets, etc.

Most likely, your friends don’t know that the link they posted is a virus, and in many of these cases, your friend may not have even posted the link themselves. Some social media viruses will auto-post links once you have clicked on them.

Spam on Social Media Accounts and Email

Have you ever gotten friend request from people you don’t know? Many of these don’t even look to be real people. If it doesn’t look real, it’s likely that it’s not. These spam accounts are simply there to try to sell you something or get you to go to a website. Though this may seem innocent, keep in mind that in many cases this can lead to other problems such as phishing and viruses.

Your Information Gets Sold

Your Information Gets Sold
Image via Flickr by Tracy O

All too often, people don’t read the terms of service. Because of this, you probably don’t know that your information may be sold. What exactly does this mean? What this means is that the companies that you sign up with have the right, by you using their services, to sell your information, such as you username, real name, email address, and more to other companies.

This information is generally used for marketing purposes. When this information is sold, you then can be harassed by companies that you’ve never even heard of. Plus, you never know who your information is being sold to. Just because it is supposed to be used for marketing doesn’t mean it will.

There are many dangers of social media. However, this doesn’t mean that you should stay away from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more.
It simply means that you need to be careful about the information you share and the links you click.

Resources:


10 Steps to Protecting Your Brand


News Article: Social Media Poses Threat to Consumers and Business

The Crime Museum: Identity Theft


The Telegraph: Two Million Have Their Identity Stolen Every Year


Study: 10,000 Identity Theft Rings in U.S.

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