I've been very aware (and these days, how can’t you be) of Facebook and social media in general for several years now. MySpace, Twitter, and the whole host of others out there have grown and fallen and risen to become multi-million dollar corporations. But it’s only in the last year or so that I’ve gotten personally involved. And it’s not for me, but because we here at Entercom Radio are utilizing Twitter and Facebook to communicate with our listeners. But I don’t keep a personal Facebook or MySpace or Twitter or any other social media page. I simply don’t want one.
No offense at all to the people I’ve fallen out of touch with over the years, but I have ways of getting in touch with those people who I want to interact with. I know their phone numbers and e-mail addresses. A Facebook page would be just one more thing I have to check online, and I carry a mobile phone that I can look at just about anywhere that will get me exactly the same information without all the junk that comes in on a Facebook home page just because a friend of a friend of a friend clicked “like” on something. How little do I care about social media? I have 3 or 4 “stealth” email addresses that I signed up for without using any actual personal data about myself. I use these for a number of activities, and one of the possibilities would be to create a “stealth” Facebook page. That way I could “like” and get news about stuff and actually make some Facebook “Friends” all without providing any genuine information about myself. And I still don’t bother.
And it’s not just because I don’t want it, there are plenty of possible security problems. Any personal information you put on the web is out there and potentially is out there forever. The recent security problems Sony is having is affecting millions of customers. And hacking a multimillion user website like Facebook or Twitter is actually easier and more likely. Facebook data servers are probably fairly secure (or at least as secure as they can be) but that’s not where social media’s security problems are most evident. Social media exists for the sole purpose of spreading information thru ever increasing webs of connected “friends,” “likes,” and "followers." So malware and viruses… well it’s like the ol’ chain-letter viruses, only a thousand times faster and more efficient. All you have to do is link a page containing malware, and then all your friends have the link. And so the potential for all of their friends, and their friends, and so on.
Just imagine if Lady Gaga, Charlie Sheen, or Lindsay Lohan accidentally linked some page with malware on it in just one tweet. And celebrity accounts do get hacked from time to time. Some identity thief could be in for a huge wealth of information if they could hack in and get a link tweeted, it’s happened before and will happen again.
But hey, if you like social media… go for it. I don’t, but a lot of folks have fun with it and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I have a couple of tips for keeping it as safe as possible. First of all, your “friends” or “followers…” make SURE they are really your friends. A lot of folks can’t turn down a friend request. But remember, any “friend” has all the information in your profile. They can see your every tweet and status update. And their junk will clutter up your feed. Anyone who doesn’t realize that and would think poorly of you for ignoring a friend request is far too judgmental and insecure. You don’t want friends like that anyway. If you want hundreds of “friends” and like the madcap social wasteland of every casual acquaintance’s every tweet and update… then get yourself a “stealth” email address and make a fake social media page without any real identity information in its user profile.
The latest Facebook specific security problem going around is the fake “dislike” option. This one’s gone around before, but is surging right now. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Facebook, the site gives you the option to “like” other users, their status updates, pictures or links they post, whatever. And of course people want the option to voice displeasure in the form of a “dislike” button. Facebook takes the high road on this one though. They keep it positive, insisting that a dislike button will just lead to flame wars and hate spread across a medium that was initially invented to bring people together. So, despite the daily requests to add a “dislike” button from all the haters out there… FACEBOOK WILL NEVER EVER ADD A DISLIKE BUTTON. So if you see the message “click here to download the Facebook “dislike” application,” DON’T DO IT. It WILL install a program on your computer. But I guarantee you won’t like what that program does to you. I really questioned myself on whether or not to give out this warning. The kind of people that want the “dislike” button are whiners and haters. And frankly I don’t care if they get viruses or spyware. The thought of it actually makes me a little happy. But I hate the scammers even more, and crime (even cybercrime) hurts more than just the victim.
I’m a helper. I guess...