Facebook has nearly 1.9 billion monthly active users, making it arguably the most powerful social media platform on earth. People use it to connect with family and friends. Businesses use it as a cost-effective marketing tool. On average, a person spends 20 minutes on Facebook per visit. Features such as photo sharing, live video, video chat, private messages, and events are making people more and more dependent on Facebook. But it’s not all hunky-dory. Here are 4 ways Facebook could harm you:

 

It Can Make You Depressed

 

People tend to post happy moments of their life to Facebook. When you see photos of your friends enjoying a vacation in Bora Bora, sipping cocktails against an impossibly blue sea, you cannot but help feel a twinge of jealousy. Photos of your cousin’s son graduating from an Ivy League school remind you of your own teenager’s ongoing struggles with academics. New homes, new cars, and new husbands are duly chronicled on Facebook. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Facebook has put comparison at our fingertips. A study at the University of Houston linked Facebook to depression.

 

It Can Cost You Millions

 

Facebook and other social media posts are increasingly a deciding factor in occupational injury lawsuits (they are more common than you think – click here for a state-wise analysis). A case in point is of Canadian woman Sarah Tambosso who was claiming hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages on account of psychological trauma following two motor vehicle crashes. However, hundreds of posts and images from her Facebook account were presented in court, showing her out drinking with friends, singing at karaoke bars, attending costume parties, and river tubing. The judge was unconvinced and awarded Tambosso a very small amount. If you are ever forced to file a personal injury lawsuit, you can be sure the defense will be looking at your Facebook profile for posts and images that contradict your claim.

 

It Can Make You Easier to Stalk

 

Every time you post something on Facebook, location services sneakily use GPS or Wi-Fi to grab your location. While it allows you to show off to your friends that you’re enjoying a margarita on a beach in Maui, this feature also allows abusers to enjoy a more in-depth stalking experience. For instance, an abusive ex can track your movements and respond to them. And if you’re not careful with your privacy settings, it can make it easier for predators to target your kids. In 2009, 26-year-old Sarah Richardson was stabbed to death in a frenzied attack by her estranged husband after she changed her Facebook relationship status to “single.”

 

It Can Cost You Your Dream Job

 

According to Monster.com, up to 90 percent of recruiters use social media to screen candidates. Images and posts containing derogatory comments, complaints about work, alcohol and drugs, sexual content, and poor grammar can all cost you your dream job. And since many people are friends with their bosses and co-workers, Facebook gives present and future employers a peek into your life. There are innumerable stories of people who lost their jobs because of social media posts.

 

Facebook is too useful to ignore. Despite the dangers, you can stay safe and enjoy the tremendous experience it offers.

 

  • Don’t add strangers as friends
  • Take the time to understand privacy settings
  • Use lists to restrict certain Facebook friends from accessing your personal information, posts, and images
  • Create a smart password (123456 and mypassword are not good options!)
  • Avoid signing in to Facebook from public computers
  • Be careful what you say
  • Monitor suspicious activity
  • Cut down the time you spend on Facebook and try to connect with friends in the real world