Some people believe that social media is a platform to express themselves and to connect with people. It explains why some people update their profile pictures and upload photos periodically. They might even put up their contact details and personal information so that their friends could easily contact them.
When personal information is exposed to public, it opens chances for abuse and cybercrimes. One example of abuse is that marketer can use your preferences and personal information and send you dozens of advertisements that suit your preferences. And the worse is that information opens up a chance for cybercrime.
Cybercrime is a crime done using a computer and Internet, and targeted to its users. For example; hate crimes, telemarketing and Internet fraud, identity theft, and credit card account thefts. Even hidden personal information can be retrieved by the cybercriminals, so can the personal information that we expose to public.
There are numerous ways to commit a crime using computer and Internet. There are notably ways of cybercrime that could be done using social media. Social media users are indeed vulnerable, as they do not feel, or deny, the presence of potential harm in those networking platform, such as cyberstalking and cyberbullying.
Cyberstalking is a kind of online harassment by monitoring one’s activity in real time. Cyberstalking becomes a crime because of the repeated threatening, harassing, or monitoring someone with whom the stalker has, or no longer has, a relationship. Cyberstalking usually harass the victim by obtaining and using victim’s financial information, or sometimes use it to threaten them. Moreover, cyberstalking may include identity theft, false accusations, abuse, and gathering information in order to harass.
Identity theft is basically stealing someone’s personal information and pretending to be that person. Identity theft will harm those who use Internet to do transactions online the most. A criminal can access data about a person’s bank account, credit card, debit card, and other sensitive information to buy things online under the victim’s name. It may result in major financial losses for the victim. The stolen information can be used to obtain new credit cards, obtain a driver’s license, or use your details to engage in e-commerce transactions. For example, the criminal can use all your details for his driver’s license but the photo!
False accusation is closely related to identity theft. The criminal uses the victim’s identity and other personal information and commits a crime. The victim might be accused since the crime has been done under his/her name. Similarly to identity theft, the victim’s identity is used for the benefit of the criminal and it leaves burdens to the victim instead, just like in the case of credit cards explained above.
Abuses, scams and solicitation may also take place along with the use of social media by minors. Young users, or the minors, are vulnerable target of child soliciting and abuse. In often cases, adults can also be the victims of this type of cybercrime. It is usually conducted through personal chat room, where people can talk to each other more freely without the intervention from anyone.
When the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images in purpose of hurting or embarrassing another person, cyberbullying has taken place; especially when the action is done repeatedly and in a hostile manner. Cyberbullying that we know happens among children that mock a particular child through embarrassing posts and comments about him/her. However, cyberbullying also happens among adults where it is usually directed on the basis of sex.
So, we have to beware of what we put on social media and what we do through it. Putting sensitive and personal information may lead to cyberstalking and cyberbullying, and any other kind of abuses. Beware of what you post and comment on social media, make sure that it is not offending any particular individual or specific race, religion, or any group. Beside of keeping ourselves away from cyberstalking and cyberbullying, we are also responsible for not cyberstalking and cyberbullying others, because the effects of cyberbullying are not simple; it may lead to death.
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