South Africa

How the ‘get to know me’ social media challenge could end in tears

Social media tears

Social media challenges are all fun and games until you get hacked or scammed in your relentless pursuit for ‘likes’.

The recent ‘get-to-know-me’ social media trend requires participants to provide responses to questions typically used for identity verification purposes by most online platforms.

Think about it, your birthday, favorite season and pet name are commonly used to verify your identity when resetting passwords.

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‘Veritable goldmine for scammers’

Cybersecurity experts warned social media users to be careful about sharing such personal information when participating in social media trends since it makes it easier for hackers to access your accounts.

“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,” said Anna Collard, SVP Content Strategy and Evangelist at KnowBe4 Africa.

“This data is a veritable goldmine for scammers looking for a way to gain access to your accounts,” she added.

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Vulnerable to cyber attacks

Collard explained that while the get-to-know-me challenge may seem harmless, the disclosure of intimate details of one’s life could make them vulnerable to cyber attacks.

“How many people use their child, partner or pet’s name as part of their password, for instance?

“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 said.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, social media scams accounted for losses amounting to $1.4 billion (R26.82 bn) in 2023.

Meanwhile, in 2021, 95 000 people reported nearly $770 million in losses due to fraud initiated on social media platforms.

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Information overshare

Cautioning against oversharing of personal information, Collard said cyber criminals could even use the information provided to impersonate users online.

“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,” she warned.

The cybersecurity expert said the best way to avoid dangers associated with the get-to-know-me trend was to simply not engage in it.

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