Data Privacy for Business and Individuals

Social Media and Internet Trends: The Pitfall Edition


I spend a lot of time immersed in articles, studies, and research on social media and internet use. In the past years I have created a “trends” article for the new year that highlighted new tech, new evolutions of social media, and better use of tools making a play in the online space. Things feel a bit different this year.

Sure, there are a lot of ‘good’ trends; centralized news feeds for users, better re-marketing for businesses, and loads more video content. But the thing I found most prevalent in the past year, was people becoming more aware of the dangers. So, without further ado, here are the top 5 social media and internet pitfalls to watch for in 2017:

Biometric Lawsuits

Your biometrics are identifiable pieces of your physical being. They include your voice, fingerprints, and facial features. In the past you would have to see someone in person to collect biometric data, but with photos floating everywhere on the internet, countless services have started cataloguing and storing people’s facial biometrics without permission. This has brought a number of lawsuits against major social networks and has also called in to question what the rules *should* be. For more information, the site Biometric Update has comprehensive articles detailing what this means to you. Unfortunately, even if the lawsuits take hold, the data has already been captured.

The Risk Connected to IoT (Internet of Things)

I have previously written on connected devices and how to use them safely from a personal perspective with your data. In 2016, hackers leveraged the connected world to create a DoS (denial of service) to Dyn, a major domain hosting site. This was done using attack bots and via household items like printers and baby monitors. It brought down Dyn and several major networks. Both producers and consumers of IoT products will need to be smarter in 2017 about what hardware they elect to add to their systems. At the very least, make sure you change the default passwords on your home connected devices.

Highlighting Physiological Issues

Beyond the actual tech concerns on privacy and security, the ability to be always connected has created the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), “likes” on images/posts have created a tangible measuring for popularity, and both gaming and porn have spawned real world addiction. From Time to CNN to the Washington Post, major publications are bringing these problems to the forefront. As a parent or educator, this is a very difficult area to help kids safeguard against. Look for more suggestions on how to help kids whose anxiety is being cultivated by this new world.

The Lack of Regulation on Live Streaming Events

I have been waiting on this one since 2015, but I believe this will be the year we find a way to regulate live streaming. I have seen amazing use of this technology to stream events and interviews, but in 2016, a child used it to live stream her own suicide and another group live streamed the kidnapping and torture of a boy with special needs. There needs to be a verification process to be permitted to stream. If content can’t be curated then users could be. Much like networks grant a ‘verified’ status to some accounts (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook), users should be vetted before they can use the system. This would limit steaming ability to approved users and businesses.

Trump’s new Cyber Security Initiatives

This isn’t a forum to get political, but there is concern that the US administration is not going to be the force we need to get on top of cyber security and privacy. Obama’s administration created a plan for cybersecurity that would start to protect consumers and businesses alike. But it is up to the Trump administration to follow through. To date the appointed members have not instilled any confidence amongst tech experts. Fingers crossed that some more savvy advisors are brought in to help, otherwise we will see more breaches before we see headway in better security.

Tips for a better year

  • Use privacy settings on all of your accounts
  • Use caution with connected devices, set permissions and unique passwords
  • Have conversations with younger generations on how they use social media, not just what they are using
  • Remember that everything posted online is permanent and potentially public, regulate accordingly
  • Have fun! If you use tech with caution, you can enjoy the benefits while mitigating the risks
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