Billions of people use social media platforms daily. Social media is excellent for maintaining contact with people and reading about all the latest trends and news. We all have fun while watching reels, scrolling through Instagram, or reading funny Tweets.
However, the truth behind social media is not always as enjoyable. Social media can represent a privacy risk for your data, making you more vulnerable to cyberattacks and data misuse.
As a social media user, you should be aware of these apps’ potential risks and privacy hazards. Here is how social media can affect your privacy and how you can protect yourself while using your favorite platform.
Collecting private data
This scenario might be familiar to you: you download a social media app, create an account, and encounter various privacy policies and permissions you need to confirm before using the app. Most of us don’t read these privacy policies and forget about them altogether. However, once you allow these apps to access your phone, there’s no going back.
When you give access to various apps, such as a camera, contacts, etc., you give the app access to your private data. You may not notice any significant change, but the app will monitor your activity to improve advertisements and marketing. It will expose your data to third parties, thus making it more vulnerable. Sometimes, it might not even be clear where your data goes.
When you allow social media apps to access your private data, they may misuse and sell it to other companies. That is one of the most common things happening to social media users. You may search for something to buy, and suddenly, you constantly start seeing ads with the exact product or service you need.
Since social media’s privacy policies aren’t that user-friendly, they may even sell your data to parties that want to harm you. You would have no idea that an app sold your data to other parties, which used it for their benefit. After all, social media platforms make you think you oversee your data; it is not their fault that you have given them access to your information.
However, users likely agree to certain data-sharing policies when they sign up for services. For instance, Meta has many products under its wing: WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and many smaller names it acquired. The information likely gets shared among all these products.
Phishing is one of the most common forms of cyberattacks on the internet. You can receive a message with some intriguing content, such as “Are you in this video?” that makes you want to click and find out more about it. Once you click the link, you grant access to viruses and possible cyberattacks.
Since social media have few protections for stopping phishing attempts, you may become a victim of such attacks while scrolling through your social media apps.
Make sure not to open any links from people you don’t know, no matter how much you want to find out what they’re hiding. Always check whether the source is credible and whether you can trust the account that is sending you the message. Overall, social media phishing is highly dangerous, and it can spread various types of infections. In other cases, it can attempt to trick users into revealing information.
People who use social media platforms love to post about their activities. For instance, you may wish to post a story from your vacation and let your friends know you are having a good time. However, that is not such a great idea because many people you don’t know may see your activity and do you some harm.
There were many reported cases where people posted about their vacations away from home, and when they returned, they found their homes wrecked and robbed.
Don’t let people on social media know that your home is unsupervised. Take a step back and rethink your choices when posting on social media because it can end badly.
How to protect your data?
As seen above, social media can represent a hazard to personal data and expose you to cyberattacks. If you want to prevent that, the only foolproof option is not to use social media. However, if you have used it for years, it could be that it is too late. Such platforms have likely collected various types of information.
Another option is to consider a VPN download, which delivers an app that makes you more anonymous and private online. It encrypts data and changes your IP address to hide your true location. The VPN protection will work on all websites and apps, social media, or games. Thus, consider using it to reduce the overall tracking, especially IP-based.
The internet is a wild place where more and more people fall victim to cybercrime. Social media is one of those unsafe places where third parties can easily access your private data and misuse it.