The dark sides of social media can make you an easy target

Posting on social media can seem fun and harmless at the time, but there can be potential danger in those seemingly innocent posts. They make us easy targets


One of the downsides of having a strong online and social media presence as well as a high level of activity, is the amount of information that is unwittingly shared. It’s no longer just about managing our personal brand and cyber foot print. Many of us unknowingly let our bosses and recruiters know about our social lives which damage our professional reputations. It’s also not even about the bullying and trolling. The dark sides to social media are greater than we imagine. We overlook all the videos, photos as well as live streaming that could get us into trouble. They seem fun and harmless at the time, but there can be potential danger in those seemingly innocent posts. They make us easy targets.



Read: Misogyny as a hate crime, effective or just words?

Salutary lesson from Kim Kardashian

A jewellery heist of $10m worth of gems, took place in Paris in October 2016 , and was attributed in part to Kim Kardashian-West living her life on reality TV and via social media. A number of high-profile security experts maintained that Kardashian essentially did the online equivalent of “leaving her window open.”  This made her a vulnerable target. With so many aspects of our lives in the public domain we facilitate any would be criminal or even someone with dubious intentions to take advantage of us.

It’s not just Kardashian’s low cut dresses and (significant) cleavage exposure that criminals pay attention to when they look at her posts and photos. Any video clips of Kardashian would show prospective burglars not just the type and quality of possessions she has in her home. They can also easily scope the layout of the rooms of her properties, the position of the doors and windows and even the identity of her body-guard.

It doesn’t just happen to celebrities

The likelihood of you and I having a $4m ring are slim I know. But many of us use Facebook check-ins when we are about to go on holiday. This sends a red alert to anyone with criminal intent that there is a strong possibility that our homes will be empty.  When we post images of ourselves at home, anyone can see the quality of our belongings captured in that shot. They will range from our cars (which might still be in the garage) our kettles on the kitchen counter, to our TV screens on the walls and electronic gadgets on the coffee table.

Social media platforms constantly prompt us to use a geo tag to let our “friends” know where we are and what we are doing.  A Bloomberg report from June 2016 suggests that 150 million Snapchat users per day, especially love the location and event attendance filters. A Geofilter delivered to a national audience will typically be seen by 40% to 60% of daily Snapchatters

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Personal security and social media

You may Tweet that you love a certain night club, ski slope or church pot-luck lunch. Your whole following now knows that you are not at home and will be gone maybe for hours, or even weeks. You may also be setting yourself up for assault or robbery while you are away or at your activity

The image of you in a night club looking the worse for wear can make you a very vulnerable target to any opportunists. Online media sites such as TikTok, Instagram, You-Tube, Periscope and other streaming platforms, provide insight into your lifestyle, family and friends, home, hobbies and interests in detail that you never imagined. Sophisticated hi-tech programmes are widely and easily available, to enlarge images and enhance the tiniest detail. The high use of social media can compromise the safety of our properties, identities and even our personal wellbeing.

Kim Kardashian’s experience is an extreme example, but this should be a salutary lesson for the rest of us. She was probably lucky it hadn’t happened sooner. There are many dark sides to social media which impact our personal security which she has ignored at her peril. She also has a large following of young women who mimic her. Kardashians and celebrities like her, who are addicted to public attention and who make their living out of being visible everywhere, encourage the rest of us to ignore those very real risks. This is someone who has a security team. What about those of us who don’t?

Let’s hope we have all learned a lesson. We need to think before we post!

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Staff Writer: Career Contributor
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