04 Jan

Everything you need to know about navigating the digital world: essential insights and vital aspects to be aware of.

This blog provides tips and advice on navigating the digital world, with a focus on crucial aspects to be aware of in an increasingly technology-driven society. The topics covered range from digital fraud and deepfakes to algorithmic influence, fact-checking, voice cloning, meta/mixed reality, online meetings, commercial misleading, and social media automation. The blog also emphasizes the importance of critical thinking, thorough research, and exercising due caution, especially when dealing with investments like cryptocurrencies or trusting online influencers. It also offers recommendations and much more.

The entire blog is attached below. At the bottom of the page on my blog, you can select a flag to change the language to your preferred one. Feel free to share this video/blog with your network for discussions on digital awareness and safety. Your engagement is highly valued!

If you prefer watching the video instead of reading, click on the following YouTube video:


Digital mastery: tips for safety & insights

Deepfakes and AI-generated Images

First of all, do not believe everything you see and hear. Consider phenomena like Deepfake.

Deepfake is a computer trick that uses fancy technology to make fake videos. It can make it seem like people are saying or doing things they never actually did. Therefore, if you come across a picture or video, especially one involving sensitive content like a naked girl, the probability of it being fake is substantial.

The same applies to pictures that might be created with artificial intelligence (AI), appearing very real and resembling familiar ones. There is a possibility that these pictures, even if they appear very authentic, are fake and created by artificial intelligence. Some platforms, like TikTok, are already attempting to label pictures and videos made by artificial intelligence under the tag “Made with AI.” However, it’s always essential to be aware of the fact that not all videos and pictures online might be real.

Especially in families where factors like women’s honor play a significant role, it is crucial to be aware that online blackmailing is a real threat. There are individuals who can misuse deepfake or artificially generated pictures to provoke and tarnish women’s honor.

The Algorithmic influence: tailoring your online experience

Be aware that everything you see is driven by algorithms. The search results will show you exactly the things that might fit for you. So the search results are always tailored to fit your specific profile, considering factors such as your age, location, language, gender, education, connections, interests, hobbies, and even potential political preferences.

The power of incognito: unbiased research

If you aim for more unbiased search results, consider using an anonymous web server. For research purposes, it is advisable to browse incognito. Utilize specialist textbooks, handbooks, and white papers from reputable scientific associations to verify information that is crucial to you. When conducting scientific research, Science.gov is an excellent option, providing full-text documents, scientific data, and other resources from federally funded research.

Fact-checking: the Key to reliable news

Always fact-check news stories to ensure that you are receiving accurate information. Not all digital sources can be relied upon, so it’s crucial to evaluate them. Ensure that the source is supported by evidence, as not all online news may be authentic. Additionally, check where the source is published and who the author is. Verify that the author is considered reputable and trustworthy in their field.

Algorithm-driven social media: selective exposure

The algorithms also influence your Facebook feed and the content you see on other social media websites, like LinkedIn. Your feed is curated to display news and updates that are highly likely to be relevant to you. This implies that more than 50% of the updates from your friends and connections on Facebook or LinkedIn may not even be prominently visible on your feed.

So, the next time you notice that your post didn’t receive as many likes from your friends or your dearest friend didn’t comment on your post, be aware that there is a significant chance that these friends did not even see your post on their page feed. The algorithms of many social websites are designed in a way that approximately 20% of your followers can see your post on their page. Therefore, don’t blame them if they say they missed your post. 🙂

Targeted advertising: the dual impact of algorithms

Even political parties leverage social media ads to target specific audiences who are highly likely to support them. For instance, a political party advocating for student rights might use advertisements targeted specifically at students and mothers with children. Similarly, businesses nowadays heavily rely on algorithm-driven advertisements. For example, if you get engaged or post on Facebook seeking tips about a wedding dress, it’s highly probable that the next day you’ll see local businesses advertising wedding dresses for you. This occurs due to the algorithms embedded in social media platforms.

Voice Cloning: an emerging trend with potential risks

Another emerging trend gaining popularity is voice cloning. Personally, I utilize voice cloning in many of my projects because it enhances productivity, efficiency, reduces costs, and, of course, saves time!

However, it’s important to be aware of the potential negative side-effects this technology brings with it.

Increasingly, criminals are employing voice cloning techniques. For instance, they may call your family members or colleagues, posing as you, and request money using your own voice! That’s why, in this age of technology and innovation, one critical step is to formulate preventive measures with friends, family and colleagues on how to handle such potential threats. Ensuring everyone is aware of the risks involved in voice cloning can significantly reduce the likelihood of falling victim to these scams.

Make everyone around you aware of the potential risks and implement security measures, such as using passwords, so others can verify your identity in case you call them, especially for financial matters. In simpler terms, establish an agreement with your friends or colleagues to use a specific word, let’s say “X,” as your shared password. In case of emergencies or urgent phone calls, you can use this password to confirm your identity and provide assurance that it is genuinely you making the call. Encourage others to adopt a similar practice for enhanced security.

Additionally, encourage others to make a call to confirm your identity in cases that are very important, adding an extra layer of verification that it is indeed you. So it’s a helpful measure to have others make a call to confirm that it’s you. Implementing these double verification methods and precautionary measures can significantly increase the difficulty for criminals attempting to exploit voice cloning, offering a robust defense against potential fraud.

Meta and Mixed Reality: verifying real avatars

As mentioned earlier in my previous video about future developments, the usage of Meta and mixed reality will increase in the upcoming years. So, it’s very important to be aware in the Meta area, in digital spaces, that not all avatars are real. Some avatars can even be driven by artificial intelligence! The solutions are: ask people for an online meeting, for example, through Teams, before making any deals with them. This not only helps you get to know the other person better but also provides additional confirmation about their authenticity. Don’t forget to search online for the identity of the person; it will help you determine if you can trust them.

Meeting people you connect with online: tips and precautions

It’s always important to prioritize your personal safety. Personally, I never make appointments with anyone whose identity is not published online because it’s important for me to know someone’s background before meeting them in real life. Understanding someone’s background before meeting them in person is crucial to me. Of course, if some mutual friend has connected me with someone without an online presence, or in case I have some mutual friends with the other one, then it’s a different case. I will also consider meeting the person in real life to establish a more tangible connection.

Additional tips I can offer on this subject include:

  • Consider meeting in person only if you’re comfortable and believe the meeting to be beneficial. An in-person meeting can help form a more tangible and meaningful connection, however always remember to prioritize your safety and comfort.
  • If you proceed with a meeting, choose a populated public place for the first few meetings, such as a café or a public park. Public places generally offer a safer environment and provide a level of ease for both parties.
  • Our intuition is a powerful safety tool. If something does not feel right about the interaction or the meeting, don’t hesitate to cancel or postpone it.
  • Always let someone close to you know where, when and who you are meeting. This ensures that someone is aware of your whereabouts and can check on you if required.

Remember, no matter how well you think you know someone online, meeting in person carries a different set of risks. Always prioritize your safety and remember that the people worthy of your time will understand and respect your cautionary approach.

Commercial misleading: beware of get-rich-quick schemes

Another thing that is very important to be aware of is commercial misleading online. Don’t believe everything if someone approaches you online claiming to make you very rich quickly. Be aware that many times, the creators of such videos get a fee to promote the product. Many creators of such videos can earn thousands of dollars just to attract some clients.

Crypto market and its potential manipulations

The same applies to the crypto market and many stocks. The world of cryptocurrency investments is filled with promises of vast wealth and is frequently portrayed as an easy way to achieve financial freedom. So don’t believe people who claim to invest in crypto X to make you very rich. I’s vital to approach these claims with healthy skepticism for several reasons:

  • Paid Promotions: there is a growing trend of individuals receiving compensation to promote particular cryptocurrencies to their follower-base. The aim is to inflate the price through increased demand artificially. Because their advice can be biased, it’s important to undertake your own research before making any investment decisions.
  • Pump and Dump Schemes: many investors aim to attract others to buy into a cryptocurrency so that its price might increase. Once the value has risen substantially, these initial investors, also known as ‘whales,’ sell their holdings for a substantial profit, resulting in the cryptocurrency’s value plummeting due to this sudden sell-off. This manipulative market behavior is known as a ‘pump and dump’ scheme.

Indeed, the online world is colorful and dynamic, fraught with both opportunities and risks alike. The key to navigating it effectively involves critical thinking, thorough research, and exercising due caution, especially when dealing with investments like cryptocurrencies.

Social media influence: the illusion of followers and the rise of paid engagement

Having a lot of followers doesn’t yet say anything either. In the early days between 2014-2018, many people bought thousands of followers on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Even buying likes to increase social score is possible nowadays. I see many creators online who are paying other people to increase engagement on their social media sites. So, consider that the next online influencers with a million followers may have bought almost all their followers some years ago for less than $1000. So next time you have plans to use influencer marketing or engage an online influencer, be aware that not everything is likely as it seems. In my upcoming blog, I’ll provide additional tips on this subject.

Social media automation and AI-driven Selling

Selling on social media is also very popular right now. I receive daily invitations on social media, many of which I am aware are driven by automation. For example, you might receive an invitation on LinkedIn and even many conversations through direct messages from someone who is not even a human but a chatbot! These LinkedIn selling tools are driven by AI and have one purpose only: getting a lot of leads for person X. So, be aware next time that some conversations on your LinkedIn page or on other social media sites might be with a bot, and even the picture behind the social media account may not be real. With other words, many of automated selling tools may initiate connections and send messages for lead generation purposes, posing as a human with a fake picture. So be always vigilant during online interactions and consider the possibility that you may be interacting with a bot.

Digital revolution in online marketing: the AI effect

And yes, email marketing with artificial intelligence is also becoming more prevalent nowadays. For instance, I can use artificial intelligence to send emails to a million people with just a few clicks, employing the traditional cold calling principle but in a digital manner. Speaking of cold calling, indeed, the next marketer who contacts you to sell something might be a robot driven by artificial intelligence. This application of AI in cold calling through the telephone is already a reality.

Smart (online) software choices: strategies for flexibility

Be also aware not to be dependent on one (online) software or program fully; they will not run forever. For example, the price of the software might change. I’ve seen many huge companies that couldn’t get rid of the software, even though it was becoming five times more expensive because all of their processes were running on it and due to its essential role in their processes. Additionally, I’ve witnessed organizations that could not change the software either because they did not own the data, or the process of changing it was so complicated that they couldn’t proceed, even when the costs had dramatically increased.

Always retain control of your data and perform regular backups, ensuring ownership of the data within the software. For business owners anticipating significant organizational growth, explore the use of numerous open-source programs that operate on your server to uphold cost efficiency.

Additional tips and advice

My final tips are as follows:

  • Use many email addresses with different passwords on different platforms, making it more difficult to get hacked. In case one of your emails is hacked, not all of your information would be accessible. Choose strong passwords that are long, a mix of characters, and avoid the obvious. Using the same password for multiple sites puts your data at further risk.
  • Do not save all your important information in the cloud; make sure you make offline backups as well. Nobody can guarantee that your information will always be in the cloud!
  • In case you use artificial intelligence in your business, make sure it’s a tool that will help you leverage your products and services. Be aware that an artificial intelligence program can be hacked or not be updated, so your business needs to continue without it.
  • Do not click on everything you receive online; there is a high probability the link can lead you to a computer virus. Always check the website before clicking to ensure it leads to a normal website.
  • Do not surf on each website that seems untrusted because viruses can be installed in this way. Always approach articles with sensationalist headlines with skepticism. Such articles often contain exaggerated or misleading information designed to attract more clicks. Ensure any questionable content is cross-verified with other reliable sources to avoid falling victim to misinformation.
  • Never give your private information like email passwords or credit card numbers to people who you don’t know, whether they are calling you or approaching you online.
  • Do updates on your phone and computer. Once in a while, it’s also good to format your entire PC or phone to ensure no viruses are installed. Also, conduct virus checks.
  • Be aware of the risk of identity theft. This can occur when personal information is stolen for the purpose of committing fraud.
  • Stay cautious about the chance of seeing inappropriate things or facing cyberbullying.
  • Make sure you’re using a secure internet connection. Avoid carrying out personal transactions that use sensitive data, such as online banking or online shopping, on public Wi-Fi. So make sure not to use public Wi-Fi when logging into sensitive accounts, such as your bank account.
  • Be aware of romance scams: these scams involve someone pretending to be interested in a romantic relationship to trick you into providing money or personal information.

And one more last thing. Be aware that some platforms and companies might use technology as a tool to influence the behavior of people. So, it’s important to educate yourself about the psychosocial impacts of technology, including the influence of social media on emotions and the possible cognitive and socialization effects on individuals, particularly the youth. Especially if you have children, it’s good to discuss this matter with them.

Stay always alert and keep yourself updated about developments in the digital area ⚠️.

In case you have any questions, feel free to send me an email through my website at www.maryayaqin.com/contact

 


Related tags: Digital navigation, Tech tips, Cyber safety, Algorithmic influence, Online security, Safety, Digital knowledge, Fraud prevention, Privacy, Artificialintelligence, Tech masterclass, Tech awareness, Cyberresilience, Aiandsafety, Emergingtech, Future, Digitalization, Security, Algorithm, Onlinemarketing, Marketing, Influence.


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