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When is sharing oversharing on social media?

By , MD at KnowBe4
21 Feb 2024

The recent “get to know me” trend on Instagram and TikTok may seem harmless, but cybersecurity experts have warned of the potential pitfalls of giving away too much of your personal information, particularly as it makes it easier for hackers to compromise your accounts.

Anna Collard, KnowBe4 Africa.
Anna Collard, KnowBe4 Africa.

Alexandra Hoang, better known as @lille.hoang to her almost 82,000 followers, has no problem sharing a bit more about herself on Instagram and TikTok. The Norwegian-Vietnamese influencer, who offers interior design advice and loves couture fashion, participated in the recent “get to know me” challenge on social media. The diminutive beauty says she’s 29 years old, 157cm tall, wears size 36 shoes and has a son called Theo. A few of her favourite things include sushi, whiskey, the colour yellow and listening to Beyoncé.

The viral “get to know me” trend began in December with a list of questions that circulated on social media, asking influencers to answer questions ranging from how many tattoos they have to what their favourite season is. Most celebrities were happy to oblige, seeing it as a way for others to get to know them better. Alexandra’s “get to know me” video, showing her sitting on a plane looking glamorous, garnered over 31,000 views, significantly more than the 22,000 views she got for a similar “random facts about me” post.

What are the dangers?

While the trend might seem innocuous, the inadvertent disclosure of intimate details of your life can make you vulnerable to cyberattacks, says Anna Collard, SVP Content Strategy and Evangelist at KnowBe4 AFRICA, a cybersecurity training designer. “Apart from being collected, analysed and sold for advertising, your personal information, likes and behaviour profiles are also interesting to fraudsters who collect this information to potentially abuse it to gain access to your accounts,” she states. Proof of this are the more than 90,000 people who fell victim to social media fraud in 2021, resulting in $770 million in losses, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

“A lot of the information you’d share in a get-to-know-me post is identical to these security questions your bank might ask you,” comments Collard. “This data is a veritable goldmine for scammers looking for a way to gain access to your accounts.”

How many people use their child, partner or pet’s name as part of their password, for instance? Armed with more information about you, fraudsters could use phishing emails to impersonate you to con your followers into downloading malware, falling for an investment scam or revealing too many details. Or they could set up convincing fake accounts in your name, a common problem for celebrities, and then DM fans in an attempt to scam them.

What should you do?

The best way to avoid the dangers of this trend is simply not to engage in it, according to Collard. “I know there’s a feeling that social media influencers need to be more authentic and vulnerable, but you also don’t want to overshare,” she says. “You certainly don’t want people to know where you live or have stalkers follow your kids to school.”

“Social media influencers get paid according to how big their audience is, so it’s understandable that they want to grow their number of views by following popular trends,” asserts Collard. “But this shouldn’t be done at any price, especially when it comes to divulging sensitive information.”

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