Over the last decade, we have been the witness of the digital age which to some extent has revolutionized our daily lives. The internet itself, since its evolution, has played a humongous part in changing our behaviors. Now, with just one click of a button, people can access information of all kinds, communicate with each other within a fraction of a second, do business online, finish a degree, make payment transfers and lots of other activities. Furthermore, recently we have also witnessed the emergence of sophisticated social platforms which apart from being used for communication and interaction between people, have started to be used for marketing purposes. Brands are now following aggressive social media marketing campaigns for increasing their brand awareness, validate their brand and increasing customer loyalty. All these factors have contributed toward making social media as one of the fastest and rapidly growing industries.
The term “internet” which was loosely described as a global network of computers served as the backbone for these platforms that amplifies what technology experts termed as a “global communication system.”
Tech-savvy users used the terms internet, the web, or WWW interchangeably; all these terms operate in the same context and language of Information Technology or IT. The internet or the web as we call it today is composed of a very complex infrastructure of peopleware, software, and hardware. But all these elements perform a dynamic web of a communication system designed to provide easy access to information using advanced technological platforms.
Fast forward to the 21st century, the internet ushered a new era of technological tools with the end of the goal of establishing closer and efficient connectivity in real time. And so digital entrepreneurs launched “social media” platforms with each platform performing a unique and distinct role in peoples’ lives.
What is social media?
By its simplest definition, the term social media is a certain way of interactions where an individual or a group of people share information they created in a digital group or virtual network of communities. This type of social interactions is done by using several platforms or tools to engage other people using digital communication.
These social media platforms or tools are categorized according to their purpose and functions. There are blog tools intended to be a platform to generate discussions over a particular topic or issue. We have tools that connect your friends and families or with other people through a social network. We also have tools that aim to generate information by using a short type of messaging. Other social media tools served as a platform to publicly display and share your photos, and videos, among people. We also used tools that allow people to exchange relevant details about jobs as shared by a group of professionals.
Some of the popular social media platforms widely used by the netizens nowadays are photo and video sharing app Instagram, social media app Facebook, micro-blogging site Twitter, video sharing and hosting app YouTube, photo and video hosting app Flickr, text messaging apps Snapchat, Viber, Telegram, among others.
Social media statistics
In gist, all these social media tools play an essential role in our lives, whether privately or publicly. A recent report by online site Statista revealed that at present, social media users across the globe now is at 2.77 billion. Statista projected that the present number of social media users is seen to increase until 2021. For 2019, the 2.77 billion social media users could triple in the coming years. The same company, however, warned that the increasing number of social media users across the globe is prone to identity theft. It further emphasizes the need to develop a stringent implementation of policy that would protect social media users’ personal information.
With the expected ballooning of social media users, digital security analysts fear that such huge figures of social media users can be a target of digital fraud, identify theft and other digital-related crimes. In particular, they raised the issue of data privacy, which, in several cases, the personal data of social media users have fallen into the hands of hackers that led to identity theft.
The issue of the data breach was triggered when social media giant Facebook has reportedly stored the passwords of its users—numbering to millions—unencrypted. This means that Facebook is storing the passwords of its users in such a way that it can be read by its staff and employees. Such expose was met with harsh criticism from Facebook users, digital security analysts, and government officials.
According to Facebook, it receives at least 600,000 hacking attempts daily. Apart from Facebook, other social media platforms were also hacked in the past. For instance, it can be recalled in 2012 that LinkedIn was hacked when a hacker exposed the passwords of the 117 million users of the company. The hacking incident pushed LinkedIn to place a safety mechanism on its platform to protect the company’s users from any hacking attempts in the future.
How to secure data?
The issue of online security threats and breaches in social media can be avoided by implementing the security features of each social media platforms. By doing so, data breaches can be prevented, and it provided another layer of protection against hackers.
Facebook is one of the biggest and dominant social media platforms on the internet right now. However, given the recent news about the data breach and data leakage, the security of our data under this platform is at scrutiny. Thus, there is a way how we can secure the amount of information we share. First of all, we are unaware of the threats we involve ourselves in when we login into other apps by simply using the ‘Sign in with Facebook account’. Now, it may not be easy to retrieve the data that these apps have, however, Facebook allows us to control the amount of information we share. This is how it is done. After you log in go to the settings tab under the drop-down arrow. Once you have clicked, there will be a tab with Apps. Take your time to review the apps that have your information and decide which one to leave or remove. Also, even if you leave some apps there, it is important to review what kind of information are they taking. For example, some news apps might be using your photos, which somehow is unnecessary.
The same goes for apps. You have probably seen that once you show a little interest on a certain topic, you will be bombarded with ads related to that specific interest. This can be somehow controlled. You need to go again to the settings tab and click the ‘ads’ button. There you can choose for which website you want to disable the ads. But, please note that this will not disable all ads. You will again see some ads but not as before.
LinkedIn users are suggested to implement three-level security to improve the app’s confidentiality level. Also, users are further advised to check names for duplicity by clustering them in groups. By doing so, users will be able to identify malicious names.
Use strong passwords
As a general rule, social media users are advised to use strong and unique passwords, especially those who are using multiple accounts. A strong password has a combination of special characters and alphanumeric characters. A unique combination of these characters using a password manager will thwart any attempts of hacking.
Enable two-factor authentication
Enabling two-factor authentication in every social media account will add a layer of protection. This works when a social media app notifies you through text that your accounts are being accessed in a certain location using a particular browser or device.
But if you want to be secured all the time when using your social media accounts, you might as well consider using VPN. Using a VPN allows your communication to be private by securing it through the use of encryption. This means that all your communication will pass in a secure and encrypted communication channel.
About the Author:
Rilind Elezaj is an experienced Digital Marketing Specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry. Rilind possesses a strong entrepreneurial mindset and has devoted his career to enhancing the sphere of digital marketing. In his methodological approach, Rilind integrates web development and other digital marketing solutions to create hybrid strategies that bring the best results.