Social media today is a tangled web of mysteries, stories, and profiles that wound around each other. While we try to keep things positive for the most part (i.e. anti-bullying campaigns, the ALS challenge, body positivity articles, etc.), occasionally, the Internet explodes into a fury of debate, mean gossip, and general negativity. Just take the daily ramblings on Twitter as an example.
With Halloween almost upon us, let’s review social media’s top scary stories that are sure to haunt our Instagram-perfect dreams. Nowadays, ghosts aren’t the only things to frighten us.
#6 Hackers Could Declare You Legally Dead
Take extra precautions about what you post online – especially regarding your personal information.
This year’s DefCon security conference in Las Vegas opened everyone’s eyes to how easy it is for hackers to declare someone officially ‘dead’. Chris Rock, CEO of Kustodian (a Melbourne-based IT security firm) demonstrated this in his presentation when he showed everyone a death certificate for DefCon’s Founder, Jeff Moss. Although rules vary per country, it’s typically easy to sign up as a funeral director via online registration. After that, just upload someone’s public information online and wait.
According to Rock, hackers do this for a number of reasons. Mostly, it’s to get a wealthy person’s money. Other times, it’s to get back at someone. By declaring an individual legally dead, you make it harder for the person to make transactions – particularly when traveling abroad.
#5 Your Company Social Media Account Could Be Hijacked
Perhaps every online marketer’s nightmare is to wake up one day and find out someone’s hijacked the company’s social media profiles.
This is exactly what happened in 2013, when HMV (a British entertainment retailing company) decided to do a mass layoff of its employees. One of the workers took hold of the brand’s official Twitter account, and decided to vent by live Tweeting. The posts were ultimately deleted – but not before the story went viral. If there’s one thing this tale has taught us, it’s to CHANGE the company’s social media logins before announcing bad news.
#4 Strangers Could Be Anonymously Rating You Right Now
Dating these days is already complicated; but add apps in the mix and you’re in for something creepy.
Two apps are under fire recently for apparently being a would-be stalker’s ideal online tools. Peeple made headlines when Washington Post carried an article about its main feature: being able to rate ANYONE you know. It’s basically like Yelp for people. Founders Julia Cordray and Nicole McCullough hopes it would help folks showcase their character, while at the same time, help you in deciding who to trust. But netizens believe otherwise.
A similar app, called The Know, is also being criticized for its questionable features. Deemed a tool for dating, users enter basic details about someone (typically a person they are seeing) and wait for a match. Then they can chat with another user who might know the same person. However, journalists and online reviewers are obviously NOT excited about this service. Some are afraid that the tool will be used for gossip, stalking, and cyber-bullying to name just a few of its negative effects.
#3 Brands Could Take Advantage of Your Misfortune
How would you feel if someone took advantage of your misfortune to promote their brand?
It is sad how several businesses and brands simply jump onto a trending topic without much thought, as in the case of actor Paul Walker’s sudden death in 2013. While his fans, friends, and family mourn for his loss, a car insurance company took to Twitter to express their thoughts. 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com released about 30 Tweets, with one directed at Walker’s account asking if he had auto insurance. The incident baffled and angered the online community.
Make sure your social media manager is as human as he or she is skilled. Navigating the ins and outs of social media is not just about metrics, it’s also about heart.
#2 Lookout for Deadly Social Media Games
If you’re not careful, you or your family could find yourselves in a disturbing social media game.
Sites like Facebook and Twitter are great for finding trending topics and getting ahead of the times. Like everything else though, they have a darker side. On May, 2015, two girls suddenly went missing in the English county of Essex. They were later found unharmed. Residents in the area believe the disappearance had something to do with the ‘Game of 72’, a social media game where teens are dared to go missing for 72 hours (3 days) without informing friends or family.
It was said that the fad started when a French girl reportedly went missing the month before. After being found, she confessed to have been playing said game. Whether the trend is true or not, parents are advised to keep a close eye on their kids’ social media activities.
#1 Your Online Romance Could Be Fake
Catfish is a relatively new term that became popular after a 2010 documentary about luring someone into online romance using a fictional persona.
Subject of the documentary, Nev Schulman, started an MTV reality series in 2012 to help people who believe they might have been catfished. The show, now on its third year, is getting more creative as they help mend broken hearts caused by fickle, non-existent online personas. What’s so scary about finding out your budding digital romance was actually…fake? Well, everything.
This is what Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o learned after went public when his online ‘girlfriend’ supposedly died of leukemia. It was later found that there was no such person, and Manti had been catfished. Aside from a broken heart, you would need to deal with trust issues after such a traumatic experience.
Stay Safe on Social Media
Social networking sites and apps are awesome. They allow us to connect with anyone around the globe, as well as share all kinds of information. In the wrong hands however, they are scary tools for abuse and deception. For social media marketers, beware of how you use social media to promote your brand. For everybody else, understand that there’s both darkness and light in your favorite social media platform.
You just need to know which side to feed.