Social media is extremely useful to us in multiple ways. It helps us in maintaining contact with our friends, keeping long-distance relationships, and to know about different countries of the world and their cultures. It has also made big brands more accessible to people which brought them more customers. After social media made its debut, it has played a very important role in the growth of companies and brands. Businesses would have never reached as many potential customers as they did with the help of social media channels.
However, there is always another side to the coin. And that is also true of social media. Therefore, along with its multiple benefits; social media also brings a lot of risks that we all need to know. Because using social media can be equally risky if we do not know how to use it properly. We often come across instances of online fraud; cyberbullying and online stalking that makes social media a very dangerous place. Let’s know more about this.
Major risks caused by social media
1. Loss of your privacy:
Privacy on social media is an illusion. Every data, information, photo, video, or file that we upload on social media is vulnerable to breach by hackers. We can easily lose all our data and personal details. Of late, channels like Facebook and Whatsapp have been in the news because of privacy issues. Who can forget the infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal where the British consulting firm collected personal data of more than millions of Facebook users without their consent for the political campaign through backdoors? The privacy concerns became such a dominant issue in India that the government was forced to enact a special IT Act that all social media channels are supposed to comply with. Therefore, we should avoid saving all our information on social media because that might lead to major losses for us. The time has come for social media sites to pull up their shocks, and provide a more secure site. One of the best examples of a highly secure and safe social site is Connected app, which went as far as signing an MOU with the government that prevents them from sharing users’ personal details with third parties.
2. Access to Inappropriate Content:
Since we have less control over our network, the information we usually see on the Internet may contain some offensive and inappropriate content. It could be in the form of adverse comments about a particular religion, community, person, and political leader, party containing derogatory, violent, and sexual language. Such content is also widely shared on social media through links or notices. Indian social media is especially notorious for this. A few years back, social channels like Facebook, and Whatsapp were blatantly misused to foment communal riots in Muzaffarnagar that took the lives of more than a hundred innocent people. In a place called Saharanpur in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, the rumors that were circulating on Whatsapp resulted in the killing of a senior police officer.
3. Harassment by Colleagues, acquaintances, or strangers:
Social media is often used for harassment and emotional blackmail by people who were once considered very close to us. We often see cases where ex-boyfriends upload intimate photographs of their partners on social media sites to take revenge. In some cases, girls were forced to commit suicide after their photographs or personal videos went viral. Even at the workplace, jealousy among colleagues leads to cases of harassment, and character assassination. Moreover, business rivalry is another major cause of harassment and blackmail. We have seen instances where in order to score a brownie point over competitors, inappropriate content and fake data were uploaded.
The following are two major forms of harassment on social media.
Cyberbullying: This is normally caused by either one of your colleagues in the office or by strangers by using tactics such as threats, blackmailing, character assassination, insults, etc.
Cyber grooming: These are mainly committed by adults with minors with an objective to get their photographs and personal information to be used later on to fulfill their ulterior motives.
4. Loss of Sensitive data
Business owners need to keep a close eye on how social media is deployed in their companies. They also have to ensure that important data is kept safe from possible attacks by viruses and malware. There are many hackers lurking around on social media sites to break inside a company’s secure website and collect sensitive data. Such highly sensitive information is often sold in the market or uploaded on the internet. In most cases, hackers are recruited by business rivals or competitors, but there are instances where people do it just for fun. We often hear of cyber-attacks on the government’s website by foreign-based hackers for the purpose of laying hands on highly classified data.
5. Loss of Reputation
These days almost every business uses social media sites for providing virtual customer service to its customers. They use multiple social channels to engage and coordinate with them. Sometimes, a dissatisfied customer posts something inappropriate against the company, putting them in a bad light. And If a company doesn’t react in time, it costs them dearly in terms of loss of reputation and goodwill. Businesses essentially run on their reputation, and if adverse publicity takes place, it has a direct effect on their business. Even a single tweet by an angry customer can do irreparable damage to a company’s reputation. It’s important for companies to keep an eagle’s eye on the proceedings on social media, and immediately respond to such complaints.
6. Inappropriate Financial Disclosures
Social media managers of companies need to be wary against disclosing sensitive financial details on social media. There were many cases when extra enthusiasm of managers led to the disclosure of sensitive information on social media sites. Nowadays, the stock market is highly influenced by the news circulating on social media. Therefore, the routine information that is casually shared on social media sites often has serious consequences. In some cases, this adversely affects the company’s share prices. However, such faux pas could be easily avoided. Sometimes, sharing such vital details results in insider trading. In all such cases, it’s the company that bears the loss. We should understand that social media is essentially a public platform; therefore, we need to display a lot of caution before sharing even routine information on these platforms.