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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Tic Toc Tech: Rethink what you share on social media

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To not offend a particular friend or family member, I often post a polite message on my wall that I do not participate in quizzes or games on Facebook or forward chain messages. I used to ask them to exclude me, but lately, I have taken a stance to not respond to such posts, and I ignore them. 

We are all bored at home, and social media has been a convenient tool to stay connected with each other but be aware of the danger when you are sharing too much. Many such games seem fun and harmless, but they collect data from you for various purposes or get your attention to click on their ad. What is your favorite movie, share your picture to match with a movie star, answer the places you have been, your fondest childhood memory and so on. Very recently, there was a game to post a senior picture with the graduation year to express support to 2020 graduates, but the Better Business Bureau issued a warning against it. 

Hackers  Social media-enabled cybercrimes contributed to $3.25 billion in revenue in one year, and 1.3 billion user accounts are compromised in the past five years. Thus, your data has monetary value! Many of the quiz questions could answer the privacy question of your bank or email or other accounts. People tend to use the same passwords for multiple accounts, so if they crack open one account, they may have access to numerous accounts. Once you click on those links, they can install adware on your computer or cellphone. Even if you leave that site, that adware is collecting your information. 

Marketing and advertising  To give you a simple example, I removed my birthday from my Facebook profile for a year or so. However, I still got tons of advertisements for personalized items for my birthday for two months. Social media has become a powerful platform for marketing and advertising. Markers love to know your preferences, learn about your spending habits, an upcoming birthday or anniversary and send you targeted ads. Thus, these games are designed to collect data from you for commercial purposes. 

Criminals — And then there are bad guys. You never know who is collecting your data about family activities and using it for cyberbullying, sex offenders to physical harm. Please avoid sharing location and check-in features as that informs criminals of your physical location. Specifically, avoid sharing travel plans and checking into airport or destination feature with pictures of trips to avoid robbery while you are on vacation. You may share the images once you are back at home. 

It is estimated that over 72% of Americans are social media consumers, and the numbers are going to grow drastically post-pandemic. Social media has become an integral part of our life, so stay vigilant and safe as you share your personal information.  

Rupal Thanawala is managing director at Trident Systems leading business and technology consulting practice, and tech editor for Indianapolis Recorder. Contact her at rupalt@indyrecorder.com. 


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