“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message.” says Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook. He seems to know what he’s doing, as his creation is one of the top social media platforms with over 2.7 billion monthly active users at last count. A plethora of social media applications which can be found on the internet is indeed very useful and beneficial. Conversely, some of their downsides are inevitable.
Fraud, scams, identity theft, and blackmail are prevalent on social media. Malaysians suffered losses amounting to about RM2.23 billion from cyber-crime frauds since 2017 (The New Straits Times – 16/7/21). There are many kinds of cyber-crime frauds and e-commerce tops the list followed by illegal loans. Scamming is also on the rise as we can see reported cases frequently in the news. Unscrupulous people will use social media platforms to dupe users into giving them money. Their modus operandi is to entice their victims into revealing personal information.
The government is taking appropriate action in combating these rising crimes by launching an awareness campaign. In my view, it’s a positive step forward as many out there are unaware of protecting themselves from being victimized. They should be wary of giving out personal and sensitive information freely especially to unknowns online. Filter photos you choose to upload. Intimate pictures should be kept personal just in case it’s used for blackmail in the future. Messages which are “too good to be true” should be ignored. I have received many such messages frequently. Always think carefully before clicking on any links which are sketchy. It’s also relevant to report these crimes to deter scammers from exploiting our community.
TROLLING, CYBERBULLYING, AND STALKING
Other pitfalls of social media are trolling, cyberbullying, and stalking. The word troll is relatively new to me and I found out a few years ago that it was actually “a message to a discussion group on the internet that somebody deliberately sends to make other people angry” (Oxford Dictionary). Many of us have had this bad experience. Some nasty people will intentionally cause hatred in the group for pleasure. The best solution is to remove this person from the group to prevent the situation from escalating.
Online messages and discussions sometimes cause unintended arguments and anger because of misunderstood or misconstrued messages. We are often misunderstood or mistaken because most social media platforms are limited to short messages and not meant to deliver a thesis. As for me, mostly it’s about the time factor to explain every detail. It’s a waste of precious time. More often than not, we are multi-tasking while messaging. That’s when mistakes and errors occur causing hostility among friends. There’s nothing like a vis-à-vis with friends.
Cyberbullying is also distressful and on the increase. Unfortunately, this trend mostly involves school children and teenagers. They are innocent and keep it to themselves or feel ashamed resulting in unreported cases. Some are threatened and become fearful of the consequences. It’s a daunting task, but parents and teachers should be observant of changes in behavior and closely monitor their activities online.
Stalking is when someone is following us in a creepy manner. This dastardly person usually preys on women. Social media users should deny entry, unfriend, block, and report shifty characters.
Fake news is omnipresent nowadays, particularly during these times when we are in the midst of a ruthless global pandemic. It’s difficult to discern between truth and lies. Sometimes, people tend to spread rumors based on hearsay or just forward unverified news. This sort of careless attitude will discredit and undermine public figures, politicians, and companies. Gullible individuals will be convinced and act accordingly. Lately, news of dodgy alternative cures for Covid-19 has been circulating. Videos of protests or war often surface when in actual fact the incidents happened long ago in another country of origin. Most of them are “doctored” to deceive.
Social media is undoubtedly a brilliant tool. However, we have to keep in mind to use it in a thoughtful and beneficial way without causing any trouble or mislead users.
Chuck is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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