Have you ever friended someone on a social media site, only to find out later they weren’t exactly who they portrayed themselves to be? Whether intentional or not, it’s a common problem that happens so often nowadays, that it’s sprung its own reality television show, as well as countless episodes of daytime talk shows. The idea of using social media to trick people isn’t new. In fact, trickery and deceit have long been a common problem on the internet, but avoiding it isn’t always easy. If you want to keep yourself safe while using social media, the key is to understand exactly how deception on social media occurs.
Why it happens?
Research suggests that approximately one in every four social media users employs false information, either in their account details or the content they distribute. But why? There’s no single reason why social media is used as a platform for deception, but a few common trends exist that can add insight into social media subterfuge.
Easy to Access. Social media sites are extremely accessible, which is a main reason why they connect a variety of people all over the world. As many sites have age restrictions, many young users will provide a false age in order to gain access. Some people alter their age to be younger, in terms of dating, etc.
Sense of Anonymity. Social media can allow someone to feel hidden and secure, which gives them the ability to browse or post content that they wouldn’t want associated with their real identity. As social media becomes more important in employment and college acceptance decisions, many people want to remain as anonymous as possible.
Privacy and Security. By altering information in their social media profiles, people believe it affords them a bit of additional security, and helps protect their privacy. However, many marketing firms that use social media advertising can still determine usage trends related to market demographics, so there’s no benefit in terms of extra privacy.
How to Detect Deception
Being able recognize spam, fraud or other bad intentions is the first step to increasing trustworthiness of social media, although it is not the only requirement. In order to truly determine if someone is intentionally trying to deceive you, you need to evaluate the source and intent of the information provided.
Consider the source. This can be one of the biggest clues to whether or not you can trust content. You should determine whether the poster is an actual person, with a single identity, or a persona without real connections. If the source is a site, you have to examine data from the site such as domain registration and other content.
Determine intent. What does the post intend to gain from your interaction with it? The purpose behind specific content can be a major clue to whether the post is legitimate or purposefully trying to deceive.
Be Careful. As with all internet activity, you should be careful with whom you share your personal information, even if you feel the intent is safe. Online deception is a growing issue with social media networks, and as their use increases, it’s even more vital for the average user to be aware of the risks.
It’s important to remember especially for small business owners that not only people in general can become victims but the whole online business reputation as well. This in return can lead to considerably more tragic consequences. Remember to always protect yourself and in case any damage is already done get to know how to deal with it.