Social Media Concerns

Social media (Facebook, twitter, etc.) is an area of growing concern regarding personal and information security. Items here will address social media security concerns.

What is social media?

Social media (often referred to as Web 2.0) is internet (World Wide Web) technology that has turned technology based social interaction to high gear and the defacto method the younger generation uses to communicate and entertain themselves. 

Hardware and Software used in social media includes Facebook, YouTube, Hulu, streaming video/audio, Myspace, blogs and wikis as well as mobile (cell phone, smart phone, IPod, IPad and similar) devices using twitter and other mobile-specific tools. 

Social media primarily focuses on user-generated content, i.e. you can publish something on the web yourself. This ability, combined with the speed at which you can place these items, as well as the ability to attach pictures and video almost instantly, adds spontaneity as well as risk to individual and business reputations.

What are social media risks?

  • Reputational risk is that of someone saying (or showing) something about you that is less than flattering. Many organizations are researching all online aspects of people. If it is found that someone (including yourself) made inappropriate comments (about you) on social media a number of years ago, it could affect your ability to get a job, get into an organization you want to be a part of or get a loan (mortgage).
  • Chances of Identity Theft increase greatly with large volumes of data available online. The more information about you online, the more likely a scammer/criminal could collect enough information to steal your identity.
  • Financial Risk is related to identity theft. If you become a victim of identity theft, you (an individual) will likely end up paying $2000 to $15,000 or more in costs and time returning your finances and life to normalcy. In addition, you will likely end up with reduced credit opportunities and higher interest rates for that credit.
  • Emotional costs are related to both the reputational risk and financial risk. If something unflattering is said about you, you may become angry. Also, if you are a victim of identity theft, you will likely have emotional stress.

How to protect yourself when using social media:

  • Be skeptical of requests. Everyone you "friend" or agree to a social media linking with, has extra access to your information. Carefully consider whether to connect with those you don't know.
  • Secure each tool. Each social media tool or site you have an account with has some kind of security settings. They are by default very unsecure. Take the time to manage your security settings in those sites.
  • Avoid publishing potentially damaging information. The following are the types of information identity thieves look for:
  • Your home address
  • Your work location
  • Dates you will be out of town
  • Where you are at a particular time
  • Information about other family members (especially children)
  • Be careful of information you disseminate about yourself. In many cases, information you post lasts forever. In some cases (not twitter) you can delete a comment before someone replies. 
    Before you post information, assess the nature of what you want to say. 
    Set boundaries on the information you want to put out publically.
  • Observe what others say about you. Other people, intentional or not, can give away information about you that might be dangerous. It is worth asking for removal of information that can put you at risk.
  • Perform Internet scans regarding your identity. You would be surprised how much information may be available on the web about any particular person. A search engine (e.g. Google) with just your name typed in is a good starting point to find what information about you is available online.