The Unknown Dangers of Social Media

For one reason or another, online privacy is not necessarily a priority in the Caribbean. However, with heightened threats from unscrupulous persons online, many are taking strides to ensure personal privacy and security. In Jamaica, for example, the government has instituted new measures to protect classified information regarding the state and its agencies, following several recent episodes of espionage.

While you may believe such breaches may never affect you, and while that may not, what about your personal privacy and security online? This, especially for young people, many of whom spend extended hours on the internet.

The extent to which social media has penetrated the online landscape is phenomenal. For young people today, going inline online is almost synonymous with signing into Facebook. To some extent, the dangers of social media have been widely known. However as social media sites become more personal, unscrupulous persons are finding more creative ways to carry out their deceitful acts. One such method is that of “catfishing”.

What is Catfishing?

So you’ve signed into your Facebook account and immediately you notice a new friend notification. Having checked,you realiseyou’re not sure who the person is, however, taken aback by their attractiveness, you add the person anyway.

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A few days pass and you suddenly notice a message from this person. You begin to speak and overtime develop some form of relationship. It may be casual friends, romantic or a ‘strong’ friendship or some other form of emotional relationship. Suddenly, a red flag is raised in your head as this person begins to ask you for personal favours. It may be money or theymay want to meet you or something of the sort.

As crazy as the idea may seem, you submit to the request and before you know it, the person got what they wanted and you never hear from him or her again. You’ve been burnt!  Guess what, you’ve succumbed to catfishing. Catfishing is the fabrication of false online identities to trick people into emotional relationships for personal gain.

The Dangers of Catfishing

Persons who engage in Catfishing generally do so withsalacious intentions. Many use it as a means to scam unassuming people out of their hard earned money. Further, there are numerous sex predators who use catfising as a means of luring teenagers and children.

Prevent Yourself from Being Victimised

There are numerous measures that you can take to protect yourself from online predators. Your weapons need only be knowledge as well as the will and discernment to resist people with phoney online identities.

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Let’s use Facebook for example. Firstly, you should never add someone you do not know. However what of the cases where you cannot discern whether you know the person or not? After all, they may look vaguely familiar or their profile picture may not necessarily be a picture of a person. In that case, here are some effective pointers:

Do not add someone if:

1.      You have no mutual friends

2.      If their page is unnecessarily restricted

3.      If their picture is obviously fake

4.      If their personal information does not reflect the background of someone you would likely know.

If you’ve already added the person, a hint of suspicion should arise if that person sends you messages that may include undue sexual content, product marketing, etc.

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As with much else on the internet,social media has impactedcontemporary culture both positively and negatively.Today, it’s easier for online predators to prey on their victims than ever before. Here at the CaribbeanCurrent, we encourage young people to be vigilant in their social interactions especially on social media.

By: Norvan Martin



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