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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection | article

As the Presence of Online Social Media Increases, So Does the Frequency of Identity Theft

Since the dawn of the cyber-age, users have increasingly chosen to use the Internet for interpersonal communication rather than meeting face to face. But as people have become increasingly comfortable sharing information online, they are also inadvertently making themselves more vulnerable to identity theft.

Social Media Dominates the Web
Many studies have indicated that social media websites not only dominate our social life, but have become a  more powerful force than some of the most popular search engines. Tech website BostInno, gathered statistics regarding internet traffic and reported as of August 2012, there were 32 billion Twitter searches a month. Bing and Yahoo! barely registered in comparison, with 2.7 billion and 2.4 billion monthly searches respectively.

Many of these websites have come out of nowhere to eventually take over
Figures from Twitter show that as of March 2011, users of the site posted more than 1 billion combined tweets a week. The growth of the social media giant has been rapid year over year, as the blog showed that in 2011, the average number of tweets posted in a month jumped to more than 140 million from only 50 million on average one year earlier.

Increased cyber communication often breeds negative exposure
However, the rise in the amount of users on social media sites coincides with a spike in identify theft and other online crimes. A 2011 study conducted by Superpages, the online component of the yellow book, found that 74 percent of all incidents of identity theft scams started by email. The results have been damaging to most victim’s credit scores, as the report estimates that credit fraud accounts for most of these incidents. The average victim inherits almost $1,000 from an identity thieves’ use of their personal information.

Members of social media websites need to be careful with what information they share over the Web, because, as these figures show, the number of people privy to it is always increasing. Not every member of a social website can be trusted, and posting certain information is clearly dangerous.