Protect your Online Privacy the Way the Top Social Media Influencers do

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Everyone is, at least, vaguely aware that free social media apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Instagram are not really free. Tech giants harvest information about our online activities while we live our digital lives on the internet without thinking about where the data goes.

online-privacy

But celebrities and Social Media Influencers rely on internet exposure to earn their living. How do they reconcile their need for privacy and social media safety with the need to maintain a robust digital profile?

Public figures, celebrities, and U.S. Privacy laws

The “right to know” implies that public figures surrender most of their privacy when they take the job. Even if public figures of responsibility like politicians, local teachers, or police officers want to keep some areas of their lives private, it may be in the public interest to disclose such information.

Examples are corrupt politicians who may want to hide those details, but it’s clearly in the public interest to disclose such information. Similarly, we cannot accept a claim to privacy in a case where a school teacher commits a sex crime.

Celebrities and social media influencers choose to be in the public eye in pursuit of fame or professional success – and oh! How we enjoy following their every action! Don’t you just love those snapshots of film stars grabbing snacks at a corner store, wearing nothing but sweatpants and a bedhead?

Social Media Influencers beware: your intimate information is for sale

That’s right; anyone can buy a report of anyone’s credit history, full name, home address, property transactions, and even more intimate details like your love life, holidays, and lifestyle. We’re not just talking about blurry shots of an actor sunning himself in the nude on a balcony in the south of France.

Almost every company or app you use or transact with collects and sells your information. All that data ends up somewhere in the cloud. Information from legal, public databases, your social media accounts, and even your comments on forums drifts down through the internet’s cracks to settle into dark and dusty corner cupboards of the web.

Most of this information ends up in the hands of low-level data brokers, who will happily sell it to anyone who wants it. Data purveyors use algorithms to collect bits of information from all over the internet. This info can draw a shockingly accurate personal profile of every internet user.

Too often, fraudsters buy this information to impersonate someone else to scam people, and social media influencers have a big target on their backs.

Celebrity impersonations scams are on the rise

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), impersonation or imposter scams were at the top of the 2019 list of consumer complaints. The FTC’s 2020 figures show that con artists got away with around $667 million in 2020 using impersonation scans.

Con artists are increasingly impersonating celebrities to scam fans. An ‘Elon Musk’ Bitcoin scam on Twitter amassed around $580 000 worth of Bitcoin because a network of falsely verified (blue-ticked, but still fraudulent) identities shared and endorsed the scam. Fake social media advertisements have cost the fans of socially influential media figures millions.

Ordinary privacy measures just don’t work for high profile people

Ordinary people can take some steps to limit their online exposure and protect their privacy on social media, but these steps are simply not applicable to celebrities and social media influencers.

Ordinary people can, for example, disable location tags on their photos or fluff a few details to retain a measure of privacy. They don’t usually have so many followers that they cannot research their followers to block lurkers and stalkers. Regular citizens are usually careful when mentioning their hometown, favorite pets, or the identities of their witty neighbors.

So, how do social media influencers protect their online privacy.

Public figures take proactive measures

According to the U.S. Government Publishing Office, your complete identity is just a few clicks away from the clutches of a fraudster. Major data breaches have become an almost daily occurrence, so no one is exempt from the risk of identity theft. When stolen data ends up in the hands of data brokers, it gets published online without your consent, and the agencies encourage the curious to spend just a few dollars to obtain a massively comprehensive report that contains your

Public figures use reputation management tools to scrub their sensitive information from the internet.

Remove your information from people-search sites

Some people-search sites may have started with good intentions, but the massive growth in that industry is starting to threaten ordinary folks’ privacy and even physical safety. Some of these sites are just low-level data brokers who make a fast buck by publishing people’s sensitive information without their consent.

You have the right to request that they remove your information, but they usually make the removal procedure difficult or even costly and the information usually pops right back up after a month or two. It can be full-time work to keep the information off the internet unless you use an automated opt-out tool to deal with the repeated removal requests when the information reappears.

Everyone should actively manage their online profile and reputation

When scammers get a hold of your private information you are at risk of identity theft, malicious damage to your reputation, and even stalking or harassment, both on- and offline. Celebrities use online reputation management tools or services to remove incorrect or outdated information before it can destroy careers or make life hard for their kids.
Until such time as the U.S. Privacy Laws catch up to the realities of reckless and even malicious internet publishing, do as the celebrities do: regularly remove irrelevant or sensitive personal information from the internet.

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Protect your Online Privacy the Way the Top Social Media Influencers do
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Everyone is, at least, vaguely aware that free social media apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Instagram are not really free.
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