Social media users must watch out for fraudsters

If social media is the new age of consciousness, can social media fraud be far behind? The rising numbers of social media scams that artfully divest a user of his or her money owe their origins to the unparalleled volume of personal information available on these platforms. From Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to a host of other domains, the world is awash with people’s personal details as avid social media users unhesitatingly, and sometimes foolishly, do away with every shred of privacy and safety and start to live out their lives in a giant glass bowl. This has given rise to a breed of people whose only job is to machinate to take advantage of this surfeit of readily available information.

As people get duped of their money or other tangible assets with frightening ease in scam after scam, it is time to ponder whether social media has, thanks to the indiscretion of its users, crossed the line from being a socially binding factor to a device that engenders social vulnerability.

Of course, we often end up blaming the existence of Facebook or Twitter or any of the many social media platforms for the scams. But that would be to miss the forest for the trees. The truth is, the preyed upon and the stalker have both existed in society throughout history. Technology has only modified the hunting ground.

So it is up to us to understand the shifting dynamics in this battle and protect ourselves accordingly. Eschewing excessive self-promotion, maintaining discretion and using common sense to deal with people who reach out to us on social media is the best armour we can provide ourselves with against the forces of exploitation arrayed in the ether.