The Threat (Literally) of Social Media

Who would have thought the online world would be more dangerous than the real world?

Opinion of Joyce Lin

“You have to evacuate the pool now. Get everyone out!” I looked over at the other lifeguards on duty and they all stared back with the same panicked expression. It was a Monday night, Oct. 9 and what I had expected to be a usual and uneventful shift. I could not have been more  wrong.
As we blew our whistles, the lap swimmers tentatively climbed out, and when recognizing the urgency of the situation, rushed to the locker rooms.
Later, as we all crowded around the front desk, we were informed that there had been a potential bomb threat. Shaken, I left quickly, rapidly spreading the word of the the prominent event.
I received a text from a friend urging me to check social media and what I found left me  speechless.
A few days earlier, a scammer impersonated Katie Peng, one of my close friends, and former ELHS student by creating a nearly identical Instagram account and replicating her posts. After the account was reported, it was deactivated for a day or two. However, that morning, the account was reactivated and threatened this Katie that they were going to place a bomb threat to ELHS in her name.
She quickly contacted the San Jose Police Department (where she currently resides), explaining that an impersonator could make a bomb threat in her name. The SJPD then called the East Lyme Police Dept., nearly 2500 miles away, informing them of the situation.
The ELPD took immediate action and proceeded to evacuate the pool and do a search of the school that night.  It was that night that I had truly realized how dangerous social media could be. I know that it is emphasized in school, but it really had not resonated with me until then. There are scammers, hackers, and predators who are willing to take advantage of anyone and for no apparent reason.
Social media, at least for the majority of people, is used to communicate between friends, families, and possibly form new friendships. Others use it for business or to promote new ideas and products.
Then there is that gray area of scammers, hackers, and even predators. Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook, and others have turned into ambiguous platforms where anything can happen. The internet is terrifying, when you think about it. In the physical world, you’re always in some sort of bubble.
But online, you can post anything, screenshot things, and encounter people that you would never expect to meet. As soon as you open that app or website, you are behind a screen. Anyone can be as open as they want because there is always that subconscious safety of a  screen.
It can be refreshing and even beneficial to try to limit your use of social media; talk to real people and immerse yourself in the actual  world.
All in all, just be careful on social media. For example, make your accounts private and be aware of who you share posts with. You don’t have to go on a social media hiatus; just be more cautious of anyone and anything.

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