Social Media Hacking 101: Avoid Being an Open Book on Facebook

More than ever, people are sharing their lives on Facebook. We post our feelings and opinions, interact with friends and post pictures of our family and friends. The more we use the platform, the more it becomes valuable to us (and if you are a business, valuable, period.), and the more it becomes a tragedy if your account is hacked. From the leak of personal information, to lost pictures and hurt reputations, getting hacked can cause some damage. If you are like me, you know your account can be hacked, but you don’t necessarily know how it happens or how to best protect yourself. Let’s have a look at what information is out there.

But, how?

Toptenselect.com created an infographic with ten ways hackers can hack a Facebook account. Side Jacking, or session hijacking, is one of the options. This is when someone steals your access to a website, usually by being on the same wireless public network as you are. As you are enjoying free Internet while munching on Starbucks sweets, someone might be accessing your information through unencrypted cookies. Another way hackers can access your Facebook is through saved passwords stored in your browser. This is called hacking via Stealers – see hack #3 on the infographic. Toptenselect.com claims the most common type of hacking on Facebook is Facebook phishing. With this approach, the hacker creates a fake Facebook login page – once you login, the hacker gets access to your accreditation.

Better be safe than sorry

Thankfully, there are many precautions you can take to protect your Facebook account beyond your password. For example, by setting up two-factor authentication, “you’ll be asked to enter a special security code or confirm your login attempt each time someone tries accessing Facebook from a computer or mobile device [Facebook doesn’t] recognize”. This is only one of the extra security measures offered directly on Facebook. For more, see Facebook’s privacy basis webpage. There are also steps you can take outside of the platform to be extra careful. For example, Business Insider’s Tech Insider encourages you to do the following: don’t share personal data when on public Wi-Fi, use advanced (and unique) passwords for all platforms and apps, and pay careful attention to links and URLs before clicking on them.

Safe

Visit Facebook’s Privacy Basics webpage at https://www.facebook.com/about/basics/stay-safe-and-secure

And if it’s too late…

If your Facebook has been hacked (I’m so sorry), the following can give it away: you don’t have access to your account, your name or profile picture has changed, messages that you did not write have been sent or posts on your timeline are not yours. If it’s the case, Telegraph Connect encourages you to change the passwords on all of your accounts (if you still have access), take screen shots of any unauthorized action to report it to the social media provider, and reach out to any contact who might have been affected by the hack.

Here is an important tip: “if the email address associated with your Facebook account has changed, you can reverse this. When an email address is changed, [Facebook sends] a message to the previous email account with a special link. You can click this link to reverse the email address change and secure your account”.

There is a lot of information out there on how to protect our information online and the risks of not doing so. I know that after doing some research, I definitely need to do some updates myself. Have you or someone you know ever had their Facebook hacked? Do you take the necessary precautions to avoid it?

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Are you taking the necessary steps to avoid getting hacked? #hacking #tips http://bit.ly/2wUL1vY

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The security of your Facebook account is very important – are you taking the necessary steps to protect yourself and your contacts from hackers? http://bit.ly/2wUL1vY

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Poor content, false information, tons of clicks

If you are on Facebook, chances are you have come across a post falsely indicating your favorite celebrity has died, or that a man-eating shark responsible for one hundred missing persons around Lac-St.-Jean was finally caught.

Bigger, faster, stronger

The Internet gives the opportunity for anyone to post almost any content, whether it is based on facts or not. When the content is posted on a website, it is almost restricted to the users, and to Google searches. However, once something is shared on social media, its audience grows quickly, as it gets visibility through tags, shares, likes and hashtags. In this fast-paced world where social media users are becoming less patient and expect to get what they want when they want it, content is viewed and shared at the touch of a finger, even if it contains false information.

Fighting the propagation of false information or fake news on social media is not an easy task. As a matter of Fact, by trying to tackle fake news, Facebook has been criticized for increasing its volume and importance on the platform. After telling users not to share certain fake news, it increased the traffic to the related sites and generated more exposure for the news. It created a domino effect where users were also sharing the news to tell their connections not to share them, or not to believe them.

Juicy titles

With the rise of social media came the rise of click-bait. In an article on Social Media Today, Jeff Rum explains that “the danger of click-bait is that if the only criterion for success is clicks, then the quality of content falls. And fast. And far. Click-bait has diminished how people value news. Fake news stories flourish in a market flooded with fluff and appeals to our baser instincts”. With juicy, misleading social media posts, websites with fake news get more clicks, more attention.

Click bait

[Purchased image; https://shutr.bz/2vDkoyg%5D

As clicks is a measurement unit and a criteria for social media marketing success, some sites will do anything to get the clicks, including misleading their users and posting poor content.

With the amount of information we process everyday on social media, it can become confusing and time consuming to verify the source of all the information we come across, and its credibility. However, more than ever, it is essential that we remain critical and question the information we are spoon fed through social media posts. In a democratic society, we need facts and we need to hear the truth if we want to make informed decisions. Furthermore, to stop perpetuating the cycle of fake news, we need not only to ignore it, but to take the time to value and share the truth to make sure that it is not buried in fake news.

Take the time to stop and think before you click.

What do you think about click-bait in the context of social media marketing? How do you make sure what you see in your social media feed is as real as possible?

twitter-logo-4How long do you analyze a social media post before you click on its link? #fakenews http://bit.ly/2wkiAYU

fb logoAre you as picky as you should be when it comes to choosing the stories you read from your social media feeds? http://bit.ly/2wkiAYU

Click bait

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Social Media in the Hands of Hatred – What Do We Do About It?

It is true, social media provides platforms where almost anyone with access to the Internet can share their thoughts, opinions and services with the world. It increases the reach of, and access to, information, and can essentially make voices “louder”. When those voices are positive, promote inclusiveness, allow businesses to reach more clients and improve their products and services, it is a great thing. However, anyone has access to these platforms. So what happens when people use social media to engage in hate speech or promote discriminatory movements? They also get more visibility.

Definitions and policies

Hate speech is defined by Merriam-Webster as “speech expressing hatred of a particular group of people”. Twitter has a hateful conduct policy that does not tolerate the promotion of “violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease”. Facebook indicates it will remove hate speech, which is described almost the same way as in Twitter’s hateful conduct policy. Both platforms will also not allow accounts dedicated to promoting such hate speech.

These definitions are very broad and leave room for interpretation. They can be subjective, since we all have different backgrounds and opinions. This can make it difficult to draw the line between hate speech and free speech. Social media platforms are in the middle of this debate and have to deal with these not-so-specific definitions. Identifying and removing hate speech from social media is therefore a complicated issue.

Easier said than done

Both Facebook and Twitter recognize the importance of freedom of expression, which is a great thing. Free speech is a human right, and an integral part of the healthy development of societies. Therefore, the social media platforms will not simply take down any content that is reported by users. When looking at reports of violation and determining the consequences, Twitter takes into consideration the context of tweets and the accounts’ record of violation. Facebook allows humor, satire and social commentary related to hate speech topics and encourages discussions around the topic of hateful speech itself. It also offers tools to help users avoid seeing content they would consider offensive.

It is not always easy to determine what is considered hate speech, and what is not. Sometimes, content is taken down by social media platforms and allowed back online after accounts make their case for freedom of expression. Unfortunately, “through humor, coded language and symbols, hateful extremists can sneak content onto social media sites. Groups use memes, images like Pepe the Frog, gifs and even parentheses to convey bigoted messages” – this just complicates the reporting and removal of hate speech. Ideally, a social media platform would be a safe place to express your opinions and engage with others. Unfortunately, with bad motives, it can become a tool for discrimination and violence.

What you can do

Facebook and Twitter have reporting tools you can easily use to report all kinds of posts and messages. It is important to note that reporting a post or an account does not guarantee that it will be removed or blocked by the social media platform – remember, if you think something is hate speech, doesn’t mean it will fit within the platform’s definition.

Screen capture indicating the Report Tweet function available under the top left arrow of Tweets. Tweet on image from @realDonaldTrump regarding Transgender individuals in the U.S. Military.

Social media platforms provide an opportunity to share thoughts and engage in conversations we would not have in person or with our close entourage. I like that Facebook embraces this idea in their hate speech standard:

People can use Facebook to challenge ideas, institutions, and practices. Such discussion can promote debate and greater understanding. […]You can also use Facebook to speak up and educate the community around you. Counter-speech in the form of accurate information and alternative viewpoints can help create a safer and more respectful environment.”

I am of the mindset that if you see something you think is wrong and don’t do anything about it, you support it in some way. The world is full of great, diverse people – let’s ask questions, encourage discussions and shine light on the good!

I would like to hear about your experience with hate speech on social media. Have you ever witnessed or reported it? How do you feel about reporting posts? Do you use social media to start conversations?

 
twitter-logo-4Free speech vs hate speech – where do you draw the line? #freespeech #hatespeech http://bit.ly/2hgt5Jz

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Instagram: Can Too Much Good Be… Bad?

Instagram is described as “a community of more than 600 million who capture and share the world’s moments on the service”. The question here is: are we sharing an accurate representation of our life in the “moments” we post on social media platforms such as Instagram?

The good

On a general note, unless you are a journalist or war photographer, most of us take pictures of things and moments we think are beautiful or worth remembering. Do you feel like taking picture of yourself when you come back from a night of dancing? Do you want to show pictures of your messy kitchen after cooking a meal? Probably not – however, taking a picture of your group of friends before a night out or a picture of your family gathered around the table sounds more likely. One could then argue it is normal for our Instagram feeds to be filled with the best parts of our lives.

The downfall

One thing to consider is that in this time where social media has become an almost integral part of our lives, we are bombarded with images that help shape how we view our reality. More than ever before, we compare our lives to others’. In an article from Huffington Post, Alyssa Westring talks about social comparison and how social media makes it so easy to access information about other people; information that, in the absence of objective feedback, we use to evaluate ourselves. It’s common knowledge now that people go through hoops and bounds, dozens of takes, and carefully choose what is left out of the frame to take pictures for social media. We are therefore left with a bunch of “picture perfect” moments to which we can compare our lives… and if you are like me, at times, this has made you feel terrible about yourself.

Striking a balance

Lately, I’ve been feeling down after mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. Seeing beautifully crafted smoothie bowls and pictures of flawless home decor was making me rethink what I ate and how my house looked. I decided to unfollow any account that I couldn’t relate to in a realistic way. Let’s face it – I am not getting off Instagram anytime soon, so I need to carefully choose what I spend my time looking at. I think the baseline to use social media in a healthy and beneficial way is to constantly check-in with yourself, question the content and immediately unfollow people or organizations that do not affect you in a positive way. It is important to remember that people pick the moments they share, and how they share them.

What about you? How do you make sure you don’t fall in the social comparison trap that is Instagram?