A survey commissioned by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky has found that three out of 10 users in Asia Pacific have admitted to having a social media profile with fake names and photos.
Seventy percent of these “dummy” accounts are on Facebook, 37% are on YouTube, 33% are on Instagram, and 25% are on Twitter. Anonymous accounts are prevalent in Southeast Asia at 35%, closely followed by South Asia at 28% and Australia at 20%.
This anonymity is approached in two ways, the first is being utilized by people who want to keep their identity when harnessing free speech without the drawbacks on their own reputations, while the second one is for conducting malicious and harmful activities – sometimes even criminal.
“From the initial purpose of finding and connecting with friends and families, social media has evolved and will continue to evolve in unprecedented ways. It has played a key role on how we socialize and identify with each other, but now, we have arrived at a fork in the road where virtual profiles of both individuals and companies are being used as a parameter for judgment,” said Yeo Siang Tiong, general manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky.
What Yeo referring to is how half of the respondents confirmed that they always check the social media accounts of brands or businesses before making a purchase. These same respondents hold a company’s online reputation as vital and are discouraged if these brands are involved in a scandal or featured negatively on the news.
“Our latest survey confirmed that consumers now hold companies accountable for their online reputation, in the same way that individuals’ behavior on social media is now being used to determine one’s credit score, to screen one’s employability, and even to either reject or approve one’s Visa request. With these real-world repercussions, we must learn a fine balancing act between privacy and security to be able to secure our increasingly crucial digital reputation,” Tiong said.
As a rule of thumb, Kaspersky recommends users to always protect digital reputation and exercise caution when revealing personal information online. Old and redundant accounts must also be deleted to avoid potential information leaks. Finally, reviewing privacy policies of apps wouldn’t hurt to try.
The study was conducted on 1,240 respondents aged between 18-65, and are working professionals who are active in social media – all across Australia, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam.