Opinion: Exercise more caution, control when using social media apps


Dheven Unni, Editor-in-Chief

Before high school, I wasn’t even allowed to use social media. When I was a freshman, I ran wild with my freedom and created Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram accounts. Four years later, I barely ever use any of them at all.

Being on social media is practically taken for granted at Lab, especially among upperclassmen. Social events, study groups and even some Student Council activities are all organized on Facebook. As a freshman, I thought of Facebook as my mom’s website, and wasn’t interested. But when I needed to coordinate a Spanish project with my classmates that was organized through Facebook, I felt I had no choice but to join.

But social media isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Now, I don’t use my Snapchat or Instagram accounts at all, and I made my first Facebook post May 1 solely because it was college decision day. If not for Messenger and the continuous stream of news I get from Facebook, I likely wouldn’t use it at all.

Quite simply, I never got hooked on social media the way many people are because I didn’t enjoy it. The constant pressure of streaks, the new societal norms of what to “like” and what to “love,” the endless messages and content — it was all too much for me. It’s too easy to let social media consume all of your time. Even without posting on Facebook, I have nights where I go to bed and just keep scrolling through content I’ve already seen and jokes that aren’t even funny, just because it’s so readily accessible on my phone and computer.

Especially in the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Lab’s orientation toward social media is deeply problematic. The choice to expose so much of your personal data to the rest of the world warrants thought and reflection, so it shouldn’t be a quick decision to just make one for a project like mine was. Since creating my accounts, I’ve thought more carefully about what information I make available on my social media accounts. Almost nothing is available from my old, inactive Snapchat and Instagram accounts. I spent an hour learning how to change my security settings on Facebook to ensure most of my information was only visible by me if it was on the site at all, and that only my friends could see anything else that I posted to my timeline.

This is not to suggest  people shouldn’t create Facebook accounts. After all, I scroll through the timeline almost daily. Rather, caution and care are warranted during the creation of an account. Ask your parents if you feel comfortable and make sure you know what information can be misused if leaked. Don’t assume anything you’ve posted on the Internet will ever go away or will always be private. Familiarize yourself with the privacy settings on your accounts to ensure you’re only sharing data that you feel safe with being public information.

And when the next data leak happens, make sure you aren’t one of the people caught unaware by just how much they’ve allowed to be public knowledge.