It happened. I got hooked. Despite all of the discipline that I put into making sure I don’t click on unfamiliar links on Twitter or Facebook, I ended up clicking on a headline that was so outrageous, so OMG, that my right index finger was pressing down before my mind could tell it, “NOOOOOOO!”
Thankfully, it was on Buzzfeed, and it was a warning to not do what I had just done. So meta. Love it.
While I may never understand the anarchy-driven, compensating-for-some-deficiency reasoning behind creating and spreading viruses, they are there and social media has become the best venue through which they can infect us. Here are some things to remember when surfing. It takes discipline and diligence, but you can do it.
What to Watch for in a Link
- Avoid Outrageous Headlines – Charlie Sheen is alive and well (as of the posting of this article) and I knew better than to click. In my defense, I would have never clicked on the headline had I seen it first on Twitter or Facebook. If you see news that is huge posted on Facebook and Twitter – you know, the shocker headlines – go straight to Google. While it’s not as fast as social media, the search giant picks up very quickly on news and you get to see the sources before you click.
- Videos and Pictures of You – We are interested in ourselves even if we don’t want to admit it. As a result, any time we see a post directed at us on social media that says something like, “Did you see that you’re in this video…”, run. Don’t click. Contact the person who sent it to you and ask them if their account was compromised (not through the source where you were sent the link, of course).
- Extra Careful on Trends – It is not uncommon for the jerks who are attacking us to play in the trending realm. Hashtags, important events, tragedies – nothing is sacred to these criminals.
- Fight All Urges – Not to be paranoid here, but I never, ever click on links in direct messages if they are shortened or if I don’t recognize the domain. Phishing, malware, and viruses are spread very easily through messaging so when there is any doubt at all, don’t click.