Our hero sighs dejectedly, ignores the link bait and replies to her hacked tweep: “Hey… Just wanted to let you know you’ve been hacked. May want to change your passwords!” On this Halloween, grab your security blanket and a pumpkin latte, because we have some scary social media stories to tell you. And listen to these tales carefully, because we want you to be the hero, and not Drew Barrymore in Scream. If you see a troll hiding under a bridge, do you feed it? Much like trolls in fairytales, internet trolls are nasty, mean-spirited and, generally, up to no good. Trolls start fights between friends or strangers. Some varieties torment those struggling with illnesses or with the loss of a loved one, or bully those who are unsure of their identity…or their looks…or any other weakness they can find. They disrupt forums with off-topic comments, brag nonstop about themselves, ridicule the thoughts of others or insert controversial comments to disrupt conversations. How do we stop them? ignore them. Trolls, like most malicious forces, crave attention and acknowledgement, and responding to their off-topic or insulting comments only gives them more fuel to use against you or your brand. If the troll persists, don’t hesitate to bring in an exorcist – er, webmaster. If the abuse is happening on a social networking site, utilize their reporting features to file a bullying report. On personal or company websites, track the IP address from where the trolling comments are coming. Persistent attacks from one or more IP addresses can be effectively blocked. What lurks in the shadows… In the dark recesses of cyberspace lurks something even scarier than trolls. Dark, shadowy figures whose motivations are hazy, who cannot be reasoned with and who are rarely caught. We’re talking, of course, about hackers. Hackers can operate in a variety of ways. Some steal personal information for their own gain, while others spread computer viruses, spy on email correspondence or even create zombie computers.
If you’ve been the victim of hacking, the first thing you should do is change your passwords to the affected accounts and update them routinely. We know it can be a pain, but it can be one of the most effective ways to throw spooks off your trail. Then, update and scan your machine with virus protection software. Users install almost all malware unknowingly, which means that you may not even know that there’s a gremlin in your laptop until it’s too late. Also, be sure to let others know that you’ve been hacked. Your friends, clients and followers will appreciate the honesty and avoid falling for the scheme themselves. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark The internet can be a scary place. However, keeping a level head can save you and your sites a whole lot of terror. After all, when you hear something go bump in the night, would you go investigate? (Seriously. Why do the people in horror films always go down into the basement, alone, to investigate weird sounds? That is, universally, a terrible idea.) What’s your scariest social media story? Feel free to spook us in the comments!