This should hardly come as a surprise to anyone, but criminals and unscrupulous individuals are making good use of social media to promote their illicit activities.
The latest report from the International Narcotics Control Board states that illegally obtained pharmaceuticals are being marketed and sold through the use of social media.
Last summer, a fugitive in the United Kingdom regularly posted updates to his Facebook profile, taunting police, until they finally caught up with him. And right here in the United States criminals have been captured because they posted photos of themselves doing illegal things or bragged about their crimes online.
If social media is the greatest communication tool ever conceived by humanity, then it stands to reason everyone will be using it. Some will use it for good, some for not so good reasons. But everyone, in one way or another will eventually be using it.
So, should you be afraid to log on to your Google+ page? Should you avoid using Twitter? Should you (gasp!) shut down your Facebook page?
No, no and no.
The fact is, we are all surrounded by criminals in our every day brick and mortar lives. People get mugged, houses are burgled and funds swiped from what are thought to be secure bank accounts. We live in a world fraught with dangers. Why would anyone imagine that any new worlds we created (online, for instance) would be any different?
There are simple ways to protect yourself however. First, if you don't know the source, don't trust it. And if it comes from a source you know, but the message seems out of the ordinary, don't trust it. You can always send a questioning email to the source and ask whether or not the link you received from them was safe for you to open. If their account has been hacked, they'll let you know.
And don't buy pharmaceuticals from a Facebook ad, or any other way which does not involve a legitimate physician whom you meet face-to-face. Especially if you don't have a prescription for said medications.
No matter how unsafe some folks believe the Internet in general (and social media specifically) might be, you won't get mugged surfing web sites. You will need to give them your information freely to a criminal for them to take advantage of you. So just don't it, ever, and you won't have any problems.