Social media based on the internet has played a massive role in allowing tech giants to amass large amounts of user data. There are so many social activities on the network which make users’ data security vulnerable. Very often some cool social media trends that appear harmless can make users unknowingly share important information that they would have kept private otherwise.
The nature of such trends is that users don’t realize how they can end up jeopardizing their data by taking part in certain activity; this evident from the infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal that made regions like European Union to come up with General Data Protection Regulations. Sometimes these trends are disguised as questions, riddles, or games that engage a lot of users in sharing personal information on the platform.
For example, a common practice involves questions that might reveal user’s school name, address, travel plans, pet’s name, make and mode of first car, mother’s maiden name, or any significant date. This data is mostly answers to numerous security questions that are required to change user passwords. Yet, the users share personal data relentlessly which increases their chances of getting hacked.
Tech giants consensually collect partial data including, names, contact number, Payment info, photos & videos, documents, emails, and comments. However, these seemingly cool trends can allow them to gather data which they cannot access without user’s content. Aside from companies, anyone with hacking skills can scan through the comments under these trends and access the entire life of their target.
A Look at Social Media Trends that Look Like Fun
Some trends on platforms like Twitter have been very popular in recent years and a lot of users have followed them; this means that have provided whatever these trends asked of them. This even includes users sharing their personal information which is otherwise private or shared with friends or close friends only.
A person might conceal this information from their close friends but have to provide it in front of strangers; this is the power that results in social media trends user data theft. Here are 5 of them that allow all of this information to fold under one roof:
Me vs The Celebrity I Share My Birthday With
Some users perhaps start these social media trends for mere entertainment. It requires all participants to share the name of celebrities whose date of birth or birthday is same as theirs. One example may look like this
Now here the user has shared the name of two artists who anyone can Google and identify the date. Some people might have their birthday hidden on social but following this trend can reveal it. Besides people, different companies, agencies, and bots run this trend to collect as much information as they can.
Social networking giants may keep storing that data and hackers would get maximum number of subjects to apply their skills. Majority of the users could have their birthday as a password (or a part of password), which hackers can use to access their mails, pictures, search history, etc. No wonder, personal videos of celebrities are leaking all the time on internet.
Me VS The Celebrity I Look Like
In order to follow this trend, users have to identify the celebrity they are told to look like. Some of them share the pictures of celebrities only and some attach their picture along as well to show the comparison in real-time.
It is entertaining for those who watch for fun but it’s highly opportunistic for those who are only there to hunt for their next prey. Or, social media giants who already know what everyone does on the internet, and this trend will allow them to know how they look like as well. It is not necessary that tech giants or hackers remain in search of data.
Companies teaching their algorithms to conclude some pattern or roll-out certain products can also do the same.
In the above example, the female user shared her photo trying to say she look like Dakota Johnson from the popular erotic franchise 50 Shades of Grey. By sharing this fact in front of unknown strangers of the internet, she has not only revealed her real face but also invited the same criticism and slander associated with the artist and those films.
10 Years Old Challenge
Since early 2019, a new challenge has gone viral that asks users to compare their recent photo from the one 10 years ago. This challenge was supposed to show how aging affects people.
Some users have been skeptical of this trend since beginning. They discussed what could be the reason behind such an unnecessary trend. Number of experts explored the possibility of malicious activity masked as entertainment. They have argued that tech giants like Facebook need such kind of data to educate its Facial Recognition AI. The tech giants train his technology on the characteristics based on age progression. It allows the algorithm to learn how people may or may not look after the given time period.
Some people do not hesitate to share personal data on social media while others keep a low-profile. Those who did not post their image regularly and chronologically since the day they joined social media, are most likely the target of this trend. It will allow the tech giant to get this missing information as well from the users. Facebook insisted that this was a user generated challenge and people themselves made it viral with their curiosity and obsession to follow trends.
It might have been started for harmless purposes because the Facial Recognition AI has seemingly performed some useful activities. Once, it depicted how Jesus Christ looked like in real life when he was young.
Faceapp’s Age Filter
Faceapp is an extremely viral smartphone app which is known to alter the faces in the picture. There are several filters which users can apply to their picture and completely change the appearance. One such popular filter is the age filter which can allow users to change taken picture into an old or young version of themselves. Despite millions following this trend, it has received mixed reviews.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also stated that every app which is made in Russia could be threat to US counterintelligence.
This trend was so viral that even celebrities took part in it. Unfortunately, everybody who participates in the trend is susceptible to privacy threat. Image data stays in the app cloud for 48 hours even if the user deletes it manually. This led many experts to argue that this way the data can be stolen, manipulated, or being used.
These images can be used to train more AI algorithms, programs, or bots that might be less friendly than apps like Faceapp.
Photolab Yellow Fever
This is yet another photo sharing trend which is further decorated to attract even those users who do not share their personal image normally.
The artistic selfie integration with yellow color was an extremely viral trend on social media this year. It was convincing enough for diverse users to take part and show how their picture looked among the yellow background.
The platform of app is a mix of professionals and common community members who can share their designs in the app for other people to use. The security risk can be that the user might come across some malicious content or element which may seem attractive but could cause harm to user’s device or personal data.
Big Data Big Risk
Just like experts can use AI to easily analyze huge chunks of data, categorize it, and then handle the risks properly; the harmful forces can use it to commit cybercrime.
Social media trends user data theft grows along with the increasing volume of personal data on internet. Big data also increases the chances of breach by anyone with the required skills like hackers and tech companies. This is why the rate of cybercrime has been increased exponentially over time. In the next five years, the global expenditure on cybercrime is estimated to reach 10.5 trillion USD.