Social media brings us closer to the world, helps us socialize with people all over the planet, educates us about different things and helps us become more open-minded citizens. The way social media makes our life better is glorified everywhere but its negative connotations are often overlooked. There are online spams, privacy issues, online bullying and what not.
When we engage in social media we function with a fake sense of security and over-confidence. We assume that the platform will keep our information safe or perhaps believe that there is nothing that can harm us as we are tech savvy enough to deal with it. While that may be true to some extent but it’s not all that secure. There are malicious people out in the world who might have some grudge against you and use the information freely available about you on the internet to cause chaos in your life or companies who use your data without your consent and send you advertisements based on that information or research experiments of which you might be a part of even without your knowledge.
Starting with your basic profile that you are required to create on any website to use it, you share your name, birth date, gender, email address, mobile number and your photograph which can be seen by anyone who visits your profile if you don’t manage your privacy settings. Furthermore, anyone can see who are your family members and friends as well. If a person with malicious intent targets you then using this basic information they can easily create fake profiles of you to harm your image, some hackers can even crack your password by using just these details. Perhaps your password is one of your family member’s name and date of birth, or something related to your favourite sports team or movie all of which is right there on your profile for anyone to see. Not only that, in case you tag your live location from that perfect holiday destination you are finally at, a criminal who knows your address can get to know that you are not at home and your home can get robbed.
If you haven’t had your own profile hacked, you surely must have heard of someone in your circle whose profile got hacked, or someone created their fake profile. It’s more common than we think. And that’s not the whole story, then there is the whole aspect of cyberbullying, most common among teenagers which can include posting rumours, threats, sexual remarks, or hate speech. Dealing with all this can make a teenager quiet and depressed. Adults, on the other hand, can also get sad and depressed after seeing their friends and colleagues posting happy pictures of their family or traveling to exotic locations.
And then there’s the whole other online space of phishing and spam emails which try to trick you out of your banking details on the pretext of sending you money of some lottery that you’ve apparently won, which you never even applied for. Or perhaps less worse, you end up becoming a part of some research experiment on social media without even your consent. Whatever happened to consent!
And most importantly and perhaps the least talked about factor is that social media can turn into an addiction. We can see people everywhere mindlessly glued to their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feed, or watching video after video on YouTube, ignorant of the precious time that they keep wasting away.
It is the 21st century and we have become slaves to the social media that we created to entertain us.