Protecting Yourself Against Social Media

[R]yerson students learned about online responsibility last week at a workshop held by the university’s IMPACT U Series.

Hamza Khan, Ryerson University’s digital community facilitator, presented ideas about the dark side of social media. Khan used Facebook and other popular websites as an example.

The creators of Facebook have gone one step further in bending the perception of privacy. With the creation of user-specific search engines, Facebook users are now able to not only search their own friends, but also “friends of X named X,” according to Khan.

For someone who is equipped with a Tinder account, this opens an entire world of possibility. Once matched with someone through the Tinder app, you can fully access that match through Facebook’s graph search. Keeping your Facebook profile private would prevent any unnecessary cyber-stalking from people you don’t know.

According to Khan, advertisements are the backbone to how apps like Facebook and Twitter stay free for download. “Everything that we search or discuss on Facebook is logged and based on those conversations, ads are chosen for you specifically,” Khan explains.

If you talk with your friends on Facebook chat about having a cold, you might see advertisements popping up on your homepage for medicine. There is no coincidence.

Aside from issues surrounding advertisements and access to personal information, Khan also discussed with the students what he refers to as “technology dependence”.

He explains that social media users are slowly becoming more dependent on apps in a way we never were before. Suddenly people are displaying compulsive behaviour of having to check every social media site before even getting out of bed.

Khan urges users of social media to set a goal for ourselves.

“Disconnect yourself every now and then so we don’t turn into robots. Be yourself and have human interaction,” Khan says. “Have your own personality so Facebook doesn’t end up knowing your likes and dislikes more than your own friends and family do!”