How Viral Scams Reflect Tech Literacy

One of the most notorious aspects of the modern era, especially the technology of the our present day and age, are the various scams that people have to face on a day to day basis while they are using said technology. You have probably encountered scams like this yourself, indeed it is fair to say that this comes with the territory in a way while you are surfing the internet.

The conversation around these scams often focuses on things like modern technology. Scams that are found online are not discussed as scams, they are talked about as if they are unique to the modern era. They are discussed as if the internet somehow created the concept of a scam, and while it is true that the internet has indeed made it easier to spread scams to a larger number of people, the fact of the matter is that scams themselves are as old as the concept of money.

Every time communication was made easier through the use of technology, fraudsters and other malicious actors saw this as an opportunity to make money. The birth of telephones, for example, brought about prank callers and con artists that would call you and pretend that you have won a certain amount of money or indeed any of the wide variety of scams that have been prevalent throughout history.

The rise in popularity of the internet similarly lead to an increase in scams and the like, and this can be seen from the very first years of email becoming widely used among people as a form of communication. Emails requesting money, promising to repay this money with interest, became very common during this period in time, and indeed email scams such as this one can still be seen even if they are a bit rarer than they used to be.

One of the major reasons why scams began to become more widespread after the rise of social media is that it made communications so much easier and more efficient. Certain posts could go viral, and if you understand how social media algorithms work you can use this to your advantage and ensure that your scam reaches as many people as possible.

Social media has also made it cheaper to reach a larger audience. While the costs of email are miniscule when compared to regular mail, social media is a great deal cheaper still, and this has made people assume that social media is the cause of scams in the first place even though this is not true at all.

Internet scams are basically the same scams that we have been seeing since time immemorial. Technology hasn’t created these scams, malicious actors just appropriated the latest advancements in order to suit their own ends which is something that they have been doing for years.

Instead of attacking social media and accusing modern technology of being the cause for scams cheating people out of their hard earned money and placing restrictions on technology thinking that these restrictions are going to make any difference, lawmakers should try and focus on educating people.

Tech illiteracy is one of the biggest reasons why scams online are still profitable. If people are educated to not believe something just because of the fact that it is on the internet, the spread of scams will slowly start to decrease until a point comes where it is no longer as serious a threat as it used to be.

Staying safe online: A guide to spotting scams and stopping spam

Staying safe online: A guide to spotting scams and stopping spam - infographic

Infographic courtesy of: Cosyfeet.

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