The social media has gained grounds in modern times with its ability to shape perceptions, worldview and initiate social change. Apart from being an interactive communication platform, it also facilitates the creation of ideas and the sharing of information.
It however, has its own downsides with many abusing it for their own peculiar reasons. One of the features that makes social media attractive is its accessibility, usually anonymously to a large extent. This ultimately makes it easy to monitor the activities of persons.
Nowadays, people tend to monitor social media activities via comments, user engagements, online chats, threads, ‘likes’ and ‘shares’. Social media monitoring is a process of using social media channels to track, gather and mine the information and data of certain individuals or groups. It is also aimed at assessing their reputation and discerning how these are perceived online.
Who Is Likely Monitoring You?
Parents are very much concerned about the usage of social media by their wards. According to a study in 2016 by Pew Research Center survey, parents take a wide range of actions to monitor their teens’ online lives and to encourage their children to use technology in appropriate and responsible manners.
Other findings revealed by Pew included:
1- 61 per cent (of parents) have checked to see which websites their teens have visited.
2- 48 per cent have examined call records or text messages on their teens’ mobile phones.
3- 48 per cent know their teens’ email passwords, while 43 per cent know the passwords to their cellphones.
4- 39 per cent use parental controls to block, filter or monitor their teens’ online activities.
5- 16 per cent use parental controls to restrict their teens’ cell phone use.
6- 65 per cent have “digitally grounded” their teens by taking away their cellphones or Internet access.
7- 55 per cent say they limit the amount of time their teens can spend online each day.
8- 95 per cent have spoken with their teens about appropriate media for them, such as television, music, books and magazines, with 36 per cent doing so frequently.
9- 95 per cent have discussed appropriate content to be viewed online, with 39 per cent doing so frequently.
10- 92 per cent have discussed online behaviour toward others, with 36 per cent doing so frequently.
One area that has implication for the national security of a country is its citizen’s engagement on the use of social media.
Some countries have ordered its security agencies on massive surveillance on its citizens’ social media accounts, which have caused serious concerns about free speech, racial and religious profiling, and privacy.
In August 2017, The federal government ordered the military to start monitoring Nigerians on the social media to check hate speech, anti-government and anti-security information.
The director of Defence Information, John Enenche, told Channels Television that the move became necessary in the light of troubling activities and misinformation capable of jeopardizing the unity of the country.
Mr Enenche, a major general, put Nigerians on notice about the tracking programme after Mr Buhari himself expressed concerns about emerging tone on social media.
“I was distressed to notice that some of the comments, especially in the social media have crossed our national red lines by daring to question our collective existence as a nation,” the president in a nationwide address August 21.
In the United State of America, security agencies like the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are collecting and analyzing content from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites of all immigrants in the country—even green card holders and naturalized U.S. citizens.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) use social media surveillance for “situational awareness, intelligence, and other operations.
The Secretary to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), John Kelly, On February 7, in a statement issued at the House Homeland Security Committee hearing, said that DHS could require non-citizens to provide the passwords to their social media accounts as a condition of entering the country.
The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California (together, the “ACLU”) on May 2018, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOI) request to find out how agencies like the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are collecting and analyzing content from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.
Most couples surf through their partners’ social media messages. A 2012 study by Derby, Knox and Easterling found that about two-thirds of participants admitted to surreptitiously looking through a partner’s private messages, including social networking sites and texts on their phones.
In other words, these people had checked a partner’s phones or social networking sites without that person’s consent.
However, the risk that comes with checking your partner’s private correspondence is that you may find material that causes you to feel jealous.
This is a former sexual or romantic partner, or a former spouse. Some go the extra length of monitoring their previous partners.
Breakups are supposed to be the end of a relationship. Whether the end came via a fight or a mutual agreement between both partners, some exes take to social networking sites to keep ‘digitally connected’ to their former partner.
Before the advent of social media sites, people relied on updates from friends if they wanted information about an ex without directly contacting them.
According to a report on DailyExpress in a study conducted by www.VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, it revealed that the average Briton for instance looks at an ex-partner’s social media profile three times per week, despite being in a new relationship with someone else.
Employers, Human Resources Personnel
Employers may monitor employees to track their activities especially engagement with workplace-related tasks.
A business using employee monitoring devices on a computer can measure productivity, track attendance, ensure security and collect proof of hours worked.
However, majority of workers believe their boss is spying on their activity, using tactics such as tracking their location, monitoring time spent away from their desk and tracking their internet browsing, according surveys.
Thanks to modern technology, companies can monitor almost 100 per cent of employee activity and communication, including:
1- Internet and app usage
3- Computer screen recording
4- Phone use
5- Video/audio surveillance
6- GPS tracking by vehicle
7- Location tracking by access badge
According to a 2007 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey from American Management Association (AMA) and The ePolicy Institute, more than one-fourth of employers have fired workers for misusing e-mail and nearly one third have fired employees for misusing the Internet
According to a report published by The Independent, almost two-thirds of employees thought the increase in use of technology for surveillance is likely to breed distrust and discrimination.
The reports also found that workers believed managers were tracking their moods using facial recognition software.
A third of the 2,100 workers polled said they thought their social media activity was being “snooped on” outside work hours.
This is a form of harassment, with the culprit tracking down a person’s social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram. These are potential hunting grounds for stalkers.
According to the research report by WHOA (Working to Halt Online Abuse) in 2013, on Cyberstalking, the statistics show that in America women are more often victims of cyber-stalking compared to men with a ratio at 60 per cent women to 40 per cent for men.
Although this is yet to be proven, many believe that embassies can snoop on visa applicants’ social media accoounts in the course of verifying the suitability of such applicants to enter their respective nations.
BBC recently reported that the Trump administration approved plans to ask US visa applicants for details of their social media accounts.
It said visa seekers, whether visitors or would-be immigrants will be asked to provide details of their activites online via a new questionnaire.
Similarly, Russia added a number of ‘intrusive’ new questions to its already lengthy visa application forms, which includes details of applicants’ Facebook and Twitter accounts.