The Social Media Influencer Culture is no joke. It started off as just a quirky trend that quickly escalated into becoming one of the most widely used, effective digital marketing tactics in the world.
So who are social media influencers?
Social Media Influencers are local celebrities and could be anyone – from that rich, fashionable neighbour kid of yours to your mechanic’s absurdly dressed-up pet chihuahua – not even kidding.
Social Media influencers have a cult following that takes the influencer’s opinion as word of God for making every sort of purchase or taking any personal or financial decision. Why? Because even though they are usually paid by brands to review the brand’s product, their audience trusts them to deliver authentic information and give them a ‘real review’. Audiences view them as ‘experienced’ and experts in the niche. These local friendly faces also seem to be so much more genuine and approachable, unlike mainstream celebrities.
Naturally, with such a fanatic following, comes the risk of privacy offenses, data leaks and stalker behaviour.
If you’re a social media influencer yourself, chances are you, too, have most of your life laid online as part of your livelihood. But what social media security measures do you have in place to protect your privacy over the internet? Here’s what you can do:
- Go through your account information critically
Start with the basics – How much information do you have on display? Does your account ‘bio’ flash your personal contact number (even if it’s for collaborations or PR)? What email address have you given out? Is it the same one that is linked to your social media accounts and has all your private photos?
Get into hacker-mode and critically analyze your account: this includes your ‘about’ section, your posts, videos and upcoming content (because trust us, your hackers and stalkers are hawk-eyed), and remove any sensitive information that could give hackers and stalkers a lead on how to get to you or someone you love. The internet is filled with examples of influencers that lost their content, their account’s access and any future collaboration deals, all because of a small slip-up during their live sessions/stories or in their posts.
2. How secure is your account?
“Passwords, like toothbrushes, should be changed once every 3 to 6 months”.
No, that’s not a quote by a tech specialist. Yes, we made it up. But it’s true. Even the best of passwords can be cracked, once your stalker has had enough time to study you, your behaviours, your patterns, your aspirations and your favourite items. According to the study, your password is usually something that you have a personal connection with or something that you can remember easily.
Also, a lot of hackers don’t even use your password right away. They wait for the perfect time or the perfect offer.
The best and safest practice would be to keep changing your passwords every now and then, never save them on your phone and always enable Multi-Factor Authentication so your hacker doesn’t get to use or sell them. And need we say it? Be vigilant about who has access to your social media accounts. They might not be as careful with your passwords as you.
3. Who are you featuring in your posts?
Even though influencers are sometimes required to bring in a friend or a family member for posts, be very careful about who you’re bringing in to make a guest appearance. Hackers more often than not hack your friends’ and family’s accounts to get access to old, “unseen” pictures of you, which they can use to either sell or defame you.
You may have secured your own account, but can you say the same for your 18-year-old cousin who just joined Instagram? Or maybe your aunt who isn’t into technology much? Be cautious of how much of your personal life you’re sharing online or you might just end up risking your own and your loved ones’ privacy.
4. In unity there is strength
While it is true that there is always unspoken competition among influencers targeting the same niche, these ‘competitors’ are also each other’s greatest support system in the digital world of ever-changing social media algorithms.
Such influencers often share audiences, with each of them promoting the other and mutually increasing followers, views and overall page traffic. So how can you use your comrades to protect your privacy?
Chances are, if any one of the influencers is attacked, the others in the same niche are at risk too. Watch out for what is going on with your fellow influencer’s account and take measures to protect yourself.
If someone is impersonating you, reach out to your influencer circle – they will help you take down the fraudulent account by spreading the word on their social media handles and having the account reported by thousands in a matter of minutes.
When push comes to shove, they will also be the first ones to come forward and clear your name. If your account security is ever compromised and your name is being soiled in front of your audience and your collaborators by cybercriminals, leverage their power.
5. Stay informed and make use of the latest cybersecurity tools
With the soaring increase in the number of social media users around the world, investing in cyber security tools has become the need of the hour.
A VPN is a good example of such a tool. Using VPNs to protect your exact geographic location and investing in other tools that help encrypt your data is one of the best ways to protect your privacy online.
Remember, knowledge is key – you pay dearly for not knowing. So keep yourself updated on all the latest cybersecurity threats and adopt a proactive approach rather than a reactive one.
Being an influencer comes with a price. Influencers have to worry about protecting their data online like their life depends on it – because, in a way, it does. A security breach, for them, could mean exposing themselves and their loved ones to physical and mental harm, because social media influencers quickly become someone’s object of obsession or hatred without really doing anything to trigger it. You can’t always control who’s watching you over the internet, but you can certainly take measures to protect yourself. Stay safe.