Social media can be described as one of the most renowned and used bits of technology established in the 21st century. It’s everywhere- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pintrest, Tumblr, Snapchat, Myspace, and a few hundred various dating sites. Not only is it everywhere, but it’s still expanding as more people each year join at least one form of social media. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 70% of all Americans use social media today, a big jump up from 5% in 2005, and 50% in 2011.
For an exhaustive list of governmental statistics- see the U.S. National Archives data for January 2017.
But what information are you giving out about yourself? And can it be used against you? Let’s just take a look at a few of the things you may be spreading around to the world and how that can be used against you.
This is the starting point for a majority of scams. Although it may not be a secret what your name is, it certainly helps narrow down who you are, and connects you across many forms of social media.
Your Contact Information
All sites need an email verification to set up and log in to an account, but that doesn’t mean you need to make that information visible for the world to see. Some sites, such as Facebook, will even ask you for your phone number- which can be reversed searched and given away to anyone. This sets you up for identity theft, or spam emails in the very least.
Family Members / Relationships
Listing off your family tree in social media can set you up for whats called an “Inheritance Scam” or “Grandparent Scam.” In this, someone will get in contact with you, claiming to be a relative or a friend of a relative who is in trouble and needs money. This information can also be used for the darker “Kidnapping Scam”.
Social media collects information about your location- including what city and state you live in, where you work, where you go to college at, even the specific building you are in when you post a status! People even add their home address to event locations that get broadcasted across the social media sites. This puts you right in line for physical stalkers, spyware, geotracking apps… anything really. You may even be setting yourself up to get robbed when other person knows you aren’t home. It’s just another bit of personal information that strangers probably don’t need to know about you.
So be careful out there, the cyber world isn’t always a friendly place.