Social media can be a mixed blessing. It’s a great way to stay connected with friends and family and to keep yourself informed. However, it’s also an open door for threats to your privacy, the opportunity to fall victim to a scammer, and worse, personal attacks from fellow users who may take issue with your posts. The knee-jerk reaction that so many of us feel about something we read online can lead to anger, threats, cyberbullying, and malicious targeting.

We often think of preteens and teens who get targeted by cyberbullying, but it’s not just young people who can fall victim to vicious social media attacks. Any user who’s had the experience of their comments or posts being taken out of context or interpreted in a way they were not intended can attest to the reactions of other people who take offense and then take action.

So how do you continue to enjoy the benefits of social media without inviting attacks?

There’s a really great acronym to keep in mind where social media is concerned: THINK. Schools and businesses around the country are urging their social media users to THINK before posting any kind of online content, as it stands for:

  • Is it TRUE?
  • Is it HELPFUL?
  • Is it INSPIRING?
  • Is it NECESSARY?
  • Is it KIND?

Unfortunately, a lot of what we tend to post online and on social media falls short of the THINK model. While it is absolutely your right to post your own viewpoints and comments on your social media pages, it bears mentioning that this invites others to fire back against your posts. It can also be linked to more serious retaliation, like account hacking and scamming.

One of the forms of identity theft that victims report every single month to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s 24-hour toll-free call center is internet takeover, which happens when someone gains access to your online accounts. This can happen to anyone, whether there’s been a social media “war” or not, but a known tactic among hackers who wish to “punish” someone is to take over the websites or social media accounts and use them for further public humiliation. This happened very recently to a noted actress, whose website was hacked by people who were angry over the fact that she dared to defend herself by speaking out against online bullies.

In order to avoid a lot of the problems that social media chaos can cause, just remember to THINK. If it’s true, kind, and useful, then there’s far less chance that someone will use your words against you.

Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, anyone can use our services, and anyone can help us help others. If you found this information useful, please consider donating to the Identity Theft Resource Center to help us keep our services free to the public.