From time to time, I notice that when I add a new contact into my phonebook, the contact eventually turns up on my Facebook friend suggestions. And those that I add on Facebook eventually turn up on my Instagram with a notification that says your Facebook friend so and so is also on Instagram as so and so. For instance, your Facebook friend Mwayi Lobe is also on Instagram as @Pretty_M. Before we know it, our contact is also linked to us on all our social media platforms. This is all thanks to the ‘well meaning’ technicians behind the code of these applications.
What is interesting about this is that it means someone somewhere has a pool of people’s names, contacts, email addresses etc and is able to match them across applications as well as directly from your phone’s contact book. This is the rather interesting world we are living in. Our private information (or is it private, really?) is literally in other people’s hands and we are at their mercy because it can be used anyhow with or without our knowledge.
Technology is really something else. The other day I needed to get in contact with someone who is a citizen of another country. I was able to get in touch with them in a time span of 15 minutes. When I searched them online, I found one mutual friend online whose contact I got from a friend of mine and, within five minutes, voila! I had the contact for the actual person I was looking for. This is the speed at which the digital era allows us to find information, find people or findout about people.
The digital era has eased communication, it has eased business, it has eased publicity and it has eased social interactions. Nowadays, communications and their respective feedback take minutes to get from one place to another. And sometimes others use it for sensational, premeditated or consequential marketing gimmicks.
Many people nowadays release sensational pictures, audios or videos that will get people talking, laughing or angry. While such content makes the rounds on people’s timelines, tabs and groups, someone somewhere is getting both the publicity and the impact and they did not have to pay for it or hire public relations executives for it to rave the social waves. Interesting.
But as they say, everything does have its pros and cons and when one looks at the ease with which information flows from one place to another as well as the fact that our private information and details are at the mercy of other people, it begs the question as to how secure we are since this information can land into the hands of both well-meaning and malice-intended people.
This should make us question what sort of information we are comfortable landing in the hands of total strangers and what information we SHOULD put out there to start with. Is it really safe to have an open account on Facebook that shows all your work history, your family, where you leave and your movements? But even when your account is protected, how well do you trust the 800 or 3,675 or 5,000 friends and 1,984 followers you have on your account that you should indulge your private and sometimes intimate information to them?
Thieves and scammers sometimes troll social media for such information and you might end up being a victim of an attack that you might consider random when it was planned for a couple of weeks. Sometimes your children or family might end up victims of attacks because of information found on your page. Sometimes your enemies or people who envy you sabotage your efforts because they got access to your information that, ideally, they should not have access to.
It is important to play it safe in the digital era. In the past, before we experienced civilisation, danger was all about wild animals and predators. In the current world, dangers are many and adverse. Security has become paramount, yet more complex because we are exposed to a lot of things in the fast changing global scene. Let us stay safe.
I rest my case.