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Are you sharing too much on social media?

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The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal highlighted what can happen when we share our data online. In this case, a researcher garnered details on the likes and habits of Facebook users (without their consent) via a personality quiz app called 'This is Your Digital Life'. Cambridge Analytica then used this data to target users with political messaging.

But, despite the media attention this case received - and the possible impact on our democracy- it seems that plenty of us are still willing to hand over our information without thinking about the consequences.

The problem with memes

The latest trend across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is to share a then-and-now picture. But how many people who took part in this "innocent" meme have considered how facial recognition software could be used to exploit this data?

Writing in Wired, Kate O'Neil argues that: "Like most emerging technology, there's a chance of fraught consequences. Age progression could someday factor into insurance assessment and health care. For example, if you seem to be aging faster than your cohorts, perhaps you're not a very good insurance risk. You may pay more or be denied coverage."

She also refutes claims that there is nothing to worry about because "if you have been on social media for a long time the various platforms have this information anyway". Instead, she argues that a simple, helpfully labelled set of then-and-now photos would be of much more value to these companies than having to trawl through hundreds (if not thousands) of unrelated images.

And it's not just this current meme that is causing concern. How often do we share when we are away on holiday, when our birthday is, our mother's maiden name, the name of our first pet, and even where we live? All data that can be used against us if it falls into the wrong hands.

Just a simple "what is your pirate/superhero/band name" post can reveal the answer to some of the most common security questions used by our banks.

Our responsibility to ourselves

It is absolutely right that we are demanding that organisations look after our data with respect, but it is also crucial that we apply the same standards to our own behaviour if we want to stay safe.

For example, when using technology, we must be conscious of the data we are sharing, and how it can be used. On social media this includes things like:

  • Not accepting friend requests from people you don't know
  • Being careful about what you share online
  • Removing location data from your posts
  • Using a different password for all your accounts
  • Using two-factor authentication
  • Checking the privacy settings of all your accounts
  • Not downloading suspicious apps
  • Thinking twice before clicking on any links
  • Reading the T&Cs of any games or apps you want to use
  • Being aware of common phishing techniques and keeping an eye out for fraudsters who attempt to gather additional personal information.

Today, social media is part of everyday life. So we would never suggest that you stop using it if you don't want to. But some simple steps can help you to stay safe.

At Hayes Connor, we believe that raising awareness of cybersecurity issues will help to protect ourselves as individuals. For more advice on how to keep your data safe, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Alternatively, if you have been the victim of a data breach or cyber fraud,find out how we can help you to recover any lossesor give us a call on0330 995 0070to discuss your case in more depth.