Social media is omnipresent in our world today. Facebook has billions of users, Twitter has grown from a microblogging site to a major force, and other social apps like Instagram and TikTok are continuing to define our cultural landscape. However, for all the good that can come from being active on social media, there are detractors as well – namely in the form of various scams to steal your money or your identity. Scammers have become more and more creative as people continue to catch on to common schemes, so it’s important to be on guard for suspicious activity.
Here are a few scams to look out for, and how to detect them:
- Requests from your “friends” via direct message. Whether or not you use chat or message features on apps like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, the option is there for you to receive messages from people you follow or are friends with. If you receive a message from someone you know that seems unusual, your suspicions likely aren’t wrong – scammers have hacked into accounts to send messages seeking money for an “emergency”; in fact, Facebook even has an option in messenger to request funds. If you feel the account messaging you has been compromised, don’t engage – but reach out later to your friend outside of social media and let them know they may have been hacked.
- Clickbait quizzes and apps on Facebook. “Click here to find out your celebrity soulmate!” “Share your photo and we’ll show you your doppelgänger!” Do these sound familiar? If you frequently use Facebook, they might – these apps and quizzes are designed to collect your personal information by appealing to audiences via what is known as “clickbait.” You may not lose money, but you risk having your account and your personal information compromised and shared with scammers.
- Apps that claim “spying privileges.” If this one doesn’t sound familiar, it’s a good thing. However, this scam – an app or add-on that claims to let you see who’s viewing your profile – is dangerous and doesn’t give you the “spying privileges” it claims. In fact, these apps require permission to access your information, and in doing so can allow scammers to message your friends, access your login credentials, and share dangerous links to your profile. A good rule to follow is to not install any app that can work your account without your permission. Additionally, you should consider changing your password every six months for your protection.