Most people would never consider walking into a public space and loudly announcing to strangers all the details of their private life, from their health issues to their family and friends’ names, ages, jobs, or school locations.
Often, these same individuals don’t think twice about posting that same information on social media. The results of sharing too much can impact not only your personal and work life, but the lives of your family and friends.
Protect yourself, your family and your friends
Social media is a great place to reconnect, share, and learn. However, just ensuring that your social media privacy settings are strong isn’t the only way to protect yourself. Once you post anything online, you have lost control of it. You need to understand what is being collected and how it is being used. Here are some helpful privacy considerations when using social media:
The legal consequences of using social media
South Africans have to think before posting anything online, or potentially face jail time and hefty fines. If the Cyber Crimes and Cyber Security Bill, and Prevention of Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill are signed into law, it will become a criminal offence to spread harmful or bigoted messages online. Remember you need consent first before you share other people’s photos.
Four things you should never post on social media:
Understanding terms and conditions
Terms of service is a legally binding contract between you, the user, and the social media platform in which you agree to adhere to the platform’s terms in exchange for the right to use its services. Always be aware of what you are agreeing to. Do you want all your information out in the wild?
Privacy is far more than just setting the privacy options in your social media accounts. The more information you share, and the more others share about you, the easier it is for fraudsters to engage in Social Engineering scams which could target you. Think about it, the more you share, the more information that is collected and used by corporations, governments, and others. Fraudsters on the dark web make money from selling your information. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to consider and limit what you share and what others share about you, regardless of the privacy options you use.
Let’s take a look at fake news
Generally speaking, fake news is a false story that is published as if it were true. Historically, fake news was usually propaganda put out by those in power to create a certain belief, even if it was completely false.
Social media has now created an environment where anyone with an agenda can publish falsehoods as if they were truths. People can be paid to post fake news on behalf of someone else or automated programs, often called bots, can publish auto-generated fake news. The motivations as to why people create and distribute fake news are as numerous as there are fish in the sea. Nowadays deepfake photos and videos are becoming more prevalent, some of which can be very convincing because they often use figureheads or celebrities as a strategy to trick people into believing the fake content.
Why is fake news dangerous?
While some examples of fake news seem innocent or just for a laugh, a lot of it can be malicious and even dangerous. Fake news is created to change beliefs, attitudes, or perceptions, and ultimately the behaviour of individuals. This means if you fall into the trap of believing fake news, your beliefs and your decisions are being driven by someone else’s agenda. Also, in some parts of the world, there can be legal consequences for publishing and sharing fake news.
How to spot fake news
So how do you protect yourself from fake news? The most effective way is to only trust something once you can actually verify it.
Common sense is your best defence
In today’s fast-paced world of social media, fake news surrounds us every day. If you are not careful, you run the risk of believing and acting upon it. Take the time to follow the above basic steps to help ensure you make informed decisions based on facts. This really cannot be emphasised enough – you absolutely have to think and rethink before you post anything potentially controversial or explicitly harmful on social media platforms. Ask yourself: is it worth it? Once you weigh up the pros and cons, you will probably find that keeping some thoughts to yourself is the best option.