The power of social media is no longer a periphery international issue, it is now with us. The doctor’s strike (“Operation Linda Afya”) was organized through Tweeter and Facebook.
Media reports indicate that the doctors used this fast, prompt and reliable mode of communication in executing their industrial action that crippled healthcare delivery in all public hospitals in the country.
Tweeter and Facebook messaging is what made it possible for doctors to quickly converge and hold peaceful demonstrations all over the country. This phenomenon is possible due to the wide coverage of telecommunication networks throughout most of the country.
Social networks are all-pervasive, however they aren’t always safe. Most malicious attacks are now emanating from social network sites. If you tweet regularly and update constantly in Facebook there are a few safety tips you should know.
The first tip is don’t click on links you don’t know. Sharing links in Twitter and Facebook is common and an effective way of directing your friends to interesting sites. However avoid clicking on subsequent blind links where you cannot discern the destination website from the link, for example www.23433.co.ke is a blind link. This link can open you up to a malicious attack and place your sensitive phone/computer data at risk.
Secondly don’t share personal information. Some personal details should never be shared online and these include your current address, date of birth, next of kin, bank details, ID number and company staff number. You would be surprised how much information about you can be gleaned from these details.
Setting up strong passwords for your Tweeter/Facebook accounts is a must. You can imagine what would have happened if the Tweeter account, that was used to mobilize doctors during “Operation Linda Afya”, had a weak password. It would be possible to hijack it and sabotage the whole effort.
Beware fake friends. A common attack that is used by online criminals is where messages are distributed from accounts whose names are vaguely familiar or resemble the names of your long lost schoolmates. Clicking on a message from such a “fake friend” will lead you to an external site that installs malicious code in your mobile phone or computer.
Social media is here to stay and as internet penetration slowly permeates in Kenya its power can only grow. Users should however use these rudimentary safeguards so as to prevent online criminals targeting your interaction with friends or colleagues on social media sites such as Tweeter.