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Befriend only those you know, not FB strangers

Due to economic hardships and high unemployment in Zimbabwe, it has been proved that most Zimbabweans befriend foreign strangers online and do so because they are seeking a companion.

Jacob Mutisi YOU wonder what happened to your school friends who you last met years ago. What did they do after school?

Where are they now?

How do they look?

Do they have a family? Will you at all meet them again?

Digital transformation has changed the social media space.

Now, you are in touch with all your friends, sharing what is happening in your daily life by way of status updates and photo uploads on an hour-to-hour, even minute-to-minute basis.

Now your friends know what you did just a minute ago. Instant photo uploads take them right into your private world.

Facebook is now your everyday friend. Millions of people can no longer imagine a world without Facebook.

But the social networking platform has a dark side to it too.

This is where sex predators, cyber criminals and paedophiles lurk and pounce on those that fall prey.

For the last two years I have received a call from a person that falls into the trap of a “Facebook friend”.

This is because most of you are accepting friend requests from strangers, criminals and even sex offenders. Due to Zimbabwe’s laws that do not provide an easy way of reporting such crimes, most crimes are not being reported.

My advice to Facebook social media users is to apply discretion before adding an unknown person to their friend list.

“The best way to stop yourself from falling prey to Facebook crimes is by using discretion while adding people to your account.

“Every day I receive a call or WhatsApp messages requesting advice, where people say they are being harassed by a Facebook friend that they do not know.

We then trace the person on his/her Facebook account.

In all cases he/she will have created a fake profile, which makes it difficult to identify the individual.

Due to economic hardships and high unemployment in Zimbabwe, it has been proved that most Zimbabweans befriend foreign strangers online and do so because they are seeking a companion.

Befriending these unknown people gives a lot of scope to people who want to share their problems.

They can express themselves in front of the unknown friend or ‘Facebook friend’. The unknown “friends” take advantage of the vulnerability of such persons.

Facebook best practices Life in the digital age is not without danger and we should enjoy the internet. When using any Facebook platforms, consider these guidelines:

Decline friend requests from people you do not know in real life;

Do not post in real-time. You can wait a few hours, or even a few days, before sharing content that reveals your location;

Be thoughtful about sharing personal details online;

Be wary of requests for sensitive photos or sensitive details or payment information, even if they seem to come from a close friend, celebrity, or major corporation; and

Be cautious when clicking links from your social media feed; hover your mouse over shortened URLs to confirm the real destination

Social media platforms have become an integral part of online lives.

Social networks are a great way to stay connected with others, but you should be wary of what you post.

Cyberspace interaction is a JOY and lets be safe when using it.

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  • Mutisi is the CEO of Hansole Investments (Pvt) Ltd and the current chairperson of Zimbabwe Information & Communication Technology, a division of Zimbabwe Institution for Engineers.