Why I don’t social media (much).

Coming fresh of the news of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica mess, I thought I might blog a quick blurb about my lack of social media presence. I have social media accounts, Facebook, LinkedIn, even Twitter.  I only use LinkedIn in any public manner. Facebook is for close friends and family. I have all three for managing social media presence for work and some other groups, so even if I didn’t want any involvement in social media personally, I have to have accounts in order to manage pages.

Speaking to social media in terms of career and professional advancement, I see some people who heavily invest in social media to promote their personal “brand”. This occurs a lot in the fields in which I work like Cyber Security and Development. I just can’t get on board with self-promotion like that, and yet I also envy the positions and success that these self-aggrandizing social media users are able to achieve. Is it now, that in order to be an upwardly mobile IT/Cyber Professional one must have a public social media presence, regularly blog and write articles and try to create a following?

I’ve always aired on the side of caution with social media. As someone who understands what data can do, the masses of social media users are opening themselves up to ever easier doxing, and doxing on a grand scale. This is what Cambridge Analytica did, it’s basically the large scale extension of a hacker playbook for social engineering, and that begins with getting as much information as possible. When a hacker has enough information about you, it’s then easy to being the social engineering campaign, whatever the end goal may be. Perhaps it’s to get your passwords, or maybe get specific information about something you have access to, or maybe to influence your decision making.

And if you think to yourself, “I’m not that easily influenced…” well, maybe you should really examine that. We make our choices and decisions based on information, and when the information can be targeted at each of us individually, catered to our “likes” and “interests” based on all this information we give up from our social media activity, it can be very easy to subtly guide our minds toward a specific direction and make us think that we’re in charge of that decision making. This is social engineering on a large scale and we’re all susceptible to it.

What’s my point though? Well, there is no point really, just awareness. Social Media can be a double edged sword, on one hand, professionally it can be useful to promote yourself and your brand, but it can also be used against you. If you find yourself somewhere in the middle, and you’re only making use of social media to share likes and photos and try to be popular, my advice.. get out of social media. Either use it as a tool to make money, or don’t use it.  If you aren’t leveraging social media to your advantage, then social media is taking advantage of you. You are divulging so much valuable data, about yourself, your loved ones and your friends. Most of the time this is used to target you with ads and entice you to further buy into the commercial machine that runs our lives…. but is some cases, the data can be used for more nefarious purposes.

Whatever your choice is on social media, make sure you are keeping your eyes open, check your privacy settings, and watch what you post, because everyone is watching.

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