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Social Media Usage

This is a hot topic for a lot of people, especially the ones who like to post their entire lives online for everyone to see. If you’ve already made the decision to post a bunch of your personal life online, you can attempt to do damage control and clean it up as best you can, but a lot of it is going to remain there forever. This is a personal decision for people to make, but to use social media for anything other than business seems ridiculous. Instead of spending hours everyday wasting your life looking at other people’s photos and lives, you could create something for yourself.

Something to keep in mind is that every time you use a free product, you are the product. Social media is an example, and I’ll use Facebook to illustrate this. When you look at posts, watch videos, follow pages, post, etc, Facebook tracks all of that to create an advertising profile of you. This is so specific that if you watch a Facebook video on your phone and you laugh at a certain section, Facebook will see that from your camera and microphone (which you freely give them access to), and will recommend more content similar to that. Another example that you can easily test for yourself is to talk about a product that you want or need. If Facebook is installed on your phone, it will eventually recommend ads for that product. The advertising industry is massive for social media and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

I mentioned in the previous paragraph about these apps being able to access your microphone and camera. It is much more insidious than that. Look at social media apps on the Apple and Google store and see the amount of permissions they require and the amount of data they collect.

Apple is much better than Google and this is an absolute travesty even for Apple. Go look at the Google Play version for Facebook and see what kind of information is collected. It was so long that I would have had to take several screenshots just to show what is collected, so I will list some of the items. The app will collect your location, personal info such as address, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, your financial info, health info, emails, text messages, photos and videos, audio files, calendar events, contacts, app activity, web browsing history, and the list goes on. This isn’t me picking on Facebook, this issue is prevalent with all social media apps, as well as many other phone apps.

To sum all this up, if you use social media, you lose a considerable amount of privacy. You also need to think carefully about anything you post. To be completely blunt, common sense is extremely important and unfortunately, many lack it. Using the previous paragraph as an example, through no fault of your own, someone else could have a lot of your info leaked just because they do something stupid. Don’t live in a bubble, but also make sure you use some sense. I don’t recommend being one of those people that are “terminally online.”

Limiting Personal Info Online

This section is extremely important for those trying to prevent doxxing. I made this under the social media section, since this is where most people are putting their personal info these days. A lot of you probably already have a lot of your info online that could be used to correlate who you are in real life and the websites you visit. Outside of niche cases, like being a public figure, there is no sense in having your online persona be the same as your real life persona. Social media is going to be one obvious exception to this, especially since some platforms are starting to implement ID verification.

To use a simple example here, using an email with your name, your birth year or the birth year of one of your kids, and so on, can be used to correlate a lot of your activity online. Let’s say you use several dozen different websites and have accounts with them using that email, and some of them you wouldn’t want people to know you use. Using any combo of personal info like that in an email address, someone can now piece a lot of your activity together. One of the most common examples of this happening is when data breaches happen. It’s unfortunately becoming more common, and is more reason to limit the info you give out to others.

One of the most egregious things I see are the people that share posts with their friends taking some moronic quiz. The quiz will ask things like what’s your middle name, what’s your birth date, who’re your parents, where were you born, and so on. I’ve seen a lot of people fill these out and post for everyone to see. Some of them may be “harmless,” but if I had to guess, I would say a lot of those quiz sites are made by threat actors who fish for anything to use. Someone with some training or experience could use that info to devastating effect.

Think before you post

This needs to be said as a reminder if nothing else - you should think before you post on these platforms. People like to get worked up into a rage because they see something they don't like and they think their opinion on the hot new current topic™️ will do something to shift the balance of the world. Just because something can be said doesn't mean it should be said. People that engage in that kind of behavior should really start to think more about not bringing shame to themselves and their family by acting like a clown.

Social media is also heavily rooted in psychology. The people behind these platforms know what they need to do to keep people addicted. Twitter is a perfect example of this. The app has been a toxic dumpster fire for years and despite people saying they would leave because of new ownership, they are still there posting toxic garbage and getting worked up over the opinions of others. Rather than use the platform for something positive, most people go there to act like clowns for everyone to see. Other social media platforms also have this issue as well, though Twitter seems to be one of the worst.

If you happen to have already been the victim of a data breach or you’ve tied your real life tightly with your online life, don’t worry. The world isn’t going to end. You can always start to make changes in how you interact online to start mitigating the damage.