KSL INVESTIGATES

Victims losing ‘memories’ when their social media is hacked

Apr 25, 2022, 11:29 PM | Updated: Feb 13, 2023, 2:42 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Young, old, rich, poor, powerful and not, Americans are learning the same hard lesson: Social media is not a safe place for safekeeping.

Earl Foote of Nexus IT Solutions says people are finding themselves locked out, and social media companies aren’t always bending over backward to help folks get back in.

“Sometimes that can take weeks or months, and sometimes they can never recover the account,” Foote said.

It’s hard to put an exact number on how many social media accounts are compromised, but according to data from internet security firm, Norton, there was a 43% increase in social media fraud attacks in 2018, and 34% of U.S. adults don’t trust social media companies at all with safeguarding their personal data.

It’s a frustration that is tragically compounded for folks who use social media the way many of us do: to store and catalogue life’s moments.

“Many people lose, you know, really important memories, right? Videos and photos of family and that kind of stuff,” Foote said.

That’s why Foote is beating the drum of NOT using social media as a photo back up.

“I would not count on using Facebook as my primary storage location,” he said.

Instead, Foote says you’d be wise to back up your memories in something you do control, like your own cloud account. Apple and Android both offer them as do dozens of others.

“Personally, I generally use Dropbox,” Foote said.

Most are pretty user-friendly and can be told to upload things automatically if you wish.

Still, cloud accounts are also hackable, so this computer expert does not put all his eggs in one basket.

“I actually do multiple backups of all my media, just in case something were to go wrong in one place,” Foote said.

Backing up photos and videos to an external hard drive, or storing them in a safe or lockbox is also a good option.

That’s good advice going forward, but what about the years of photos and videos that are already on social media? You, ya know, probably have them on an old phone somewhere, but you don’t for the life of you know where.

Well, you can go through and download them all one-by-one. Facebook has an option where you can download the lot of photos. And there are companies that will take all of those Instagram memories and turn them into a book.

Alas, if social media is the only place some of your digital memories exist, you may find those memories a bit fuzzy – literally – Foote says.

“It’s generally going to get compressed. So the quality is not going to be as high as the original, the raw file when you originally created that file.”

Not ideal, but better than nothing. Internet crime is getting worse, according to the FBI’s 2021 Internet Crime Report.

With control of someone’s social media account, crooks are able to impersonate them, and frequently are able to dupe their family and friends into sending money or downloading malware.

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Victims losing ‘memories’ when their social media is hacked