Online security must be taken seriously

Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter are just a few social media platforms with a combined user count of approximately 2.6 billion. These sites allow users to update friends, family and strangers on everything from their loved ones to their last meal.

As harmless as these updates may seem, the daily routines of one’s life can be gathered from the collection of information posted and become easily accessible to others — including hackers.

Social media users have been advised by the rest of the media to be cautious of the content they post online. While it is difficult to convince millions of users to limit their online presence, the recent experience of a celebrity has sounded alarms regarding social media security and the shortcomings of a digital world.

There is no better example than Kim Kardashian, who was recently subject to an armed robbery while vacationing in Paris. It was revealed that the offenders, who stole millions worth in jewelry and tied Kardashian up in a bathtub, determined her location via her consistent posts on social media. Hours before her attack, Kim posted videos and pictures of her in her apartment showing off her surroundings and location. This allowed the robbers to locate her. The event led her entire family to take a break from social media — including Kylie Jenner, who is the most followed person on Snapchat.

Being robbed at gunpoint is an extreme outcome of constant social media use, but it shows a consequence of what can happen if online security is not taken seriously. Paly junior Alexis Pisco has become aware of how dangerous social media can be.

“Although being tied up in a bathtub and robbed at gunpoint is unlikely for people our age here, the incident with Kim just shows how much social media can reveal about yourself and your location if you are not careful,” Pisco said. “[The robbery] has definitely made me more aware and more cautious with what and how much I post on my social media accounts.”

Teenagers are especially susceptible to the outcomes of careless social media use. As seen in Kardashian’s widely publicized situation, constant online updates can create a digital trail that a stranger can follow. While her experience was rare, teenagers can identify with a more common fate: colleges and employers using social media to evaluate prospective students or employees. If an individual posts provocative content on their profiles, colleges and employers may view them, creating a tarnished first impression of the individual that can potentially make or break admissions or employment decisions.

Although being tied up in a bathtub and robbed at gunpoint is unlikely for people our age here, the incident with Kim just shows how much social media can reveal about yourself and your location if you are not careful.

Alexis Pisco

Junior

Christine Badowski Koenig, a former Chicago Tribune employee, conducted research on the number of institutions of higher education that observe social media accounts. 144 colleges and universities within a 150 mile radius of Chicago were surveyed.

“As the parent of a high school student, I was curious about what universities were viewing and how they were weighing whatever they found,” Koenig said in a recent interview with the Tribune.

Of the 144 colleges, only 43 schools replied. In her survey, 67 percent of these schools stated they online searched prospective students, and 86 percent confessed to researching students’ social media profiles.

“I don’t know how many prospective college students consider this during their  application process… from the social media posts, comments and photos I see from college-bound students, it’s obvious they never consider that their future school may be peeking at their social media traffic,” Koenig said.

The lack of acknowledgment of social media effects are long lasting and can ultimately affect your future. Next time, think carefully before you make your post.