What is social media?
Social media refers to any digital platform, system, website or app that enables people to create and share content, and connect with each other. Here are a few of the most popular sites that people use, and how they work:
A free site where registered users (aged 13 and up) can share pictures, links, videos, and other content with their ‘friends’. Friends are other registered users you have connected with within the network. Most of the time, anything you share will only be seen by the people you have ‘friended’.
A free image sharing service that is used mainly on mobile devices. On Instagram, it’s common to connect with people you don’t know but share common interests with. You can have a public account or a private account where only friends can see your posts. Instagram also has their own privacy settings to stay up-to-date with.
A mobile phone messaging application that allows you to send video or picture messages to one or more people at a time. The messages are only viewable for a few seconds at a time, as determined by the sender. However, there are ways of saving the images using other phone functions.
According to Stastica, there are approximately 2.62 billion social media users worldwide, a figure that has been rising since 2010 and is expected to continue to rise to over 3 billion by 2021. Considering the world population is estimated to be around 7.5 billion people, this means that 37% of the world population use social media, and it is becoming a worrying trend, particularly amongst young people, that we as a global community are reliant and dependent upon social media.
Social media has consumed our daily lives, and it is little wonder, therefore, that we begin to question how ‘secure’ and ‘safe’ this technology is. All social media platforms require users to give their email addresses, often their phone numbers and other personal details in order to create accounts, and in a worrying trend, younger people tend to abandon key security concerns and hand over personal information to technology companies without a second thought. We wouldn’t hand over these details to strangers in the street, so why are we handing over this data to multi-billion dollar companies who have been known to sell our data on?
For ease of access, lots of people are bypassing security measures; such as passwords, to access their social media platforms with one click, or one swipe, and then wonder how their accounts get hacked. This rings true with technology in general, with people opting to not have passwords on their phones, or passwords for their online banking apps. It is an increasingly worrying trend that is only getting worse, as people get complacent with technology.
The Illusion of Security
Did you know you cannot ‘delete’ a photo from Facebook? You can remove it from your profile and the button is labelled ‘delete’, but Facebook keeps a copy, they always have, it is in your Facebook end-user agreement. Have you read it? Have you read any of the end-user agreements on these social media websites? You should. Did you know you cannot delete your Facebook account? You can deactivate it but it will always be there and hackers love inactive accounts. The password never changes.
The Internet leaves a permanent trace, every photo, every post, every tag remains online, even after a user has ‘deleted’ it, and young people in particular need to be aware of this concerning fact. We must educate an entire generation of the dangers of technology and social media,
Not only that, social media has been found to have a negative impact on the mental health of a generation. Greater social media use related to online harassment, poor sleep, low self-esteem and poor body image, with most young users using the platforms to update friends and family on every aspect of their lives.
Social media, whilst a powerful tool originally designed to connect the globe, has the capacity for evil. More education is needed to teach a generation of the dangers social media and the threat is poses not only to cyber security, but mental health.
-Feature Image: Creator:VectorStock.com/18118841