Who could have imagined that when Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook in 2004 that it would blossom into a social media giant with 2.9 billion users and a market capitalisation of $458 billion. A host of other platforms were launched hot on the heels of Meta’s baby including YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp and more recently, TikTok. These channels all offer different features to different target audiences and generations. Facebook is most popular with the Millennials and Baby Boomers, while Gen Z, who have never known a life without unlimited access to people or information and are synonymous with social media, opt for Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok. Since its inception, social media has become big business with Facebook alone grossing $118 billion in 2021 with a net profit of $39 billion.


So how do these social media behemoths manage to generate such massive revenues? Put simply, as TV and newspapers have been doing for years, they make a fortune selling advertising while offering a free service. When Facebook opened up its network to the wider world in September 2006, many companies and brands created Pages. That marked the beginning of an era of social media evolution and an explosion of online branding, marketing and advertising. With 40 channels to choose from, ranging from selling on the small-scale Facebook Marketplace to posting video content on YouTube, businesses can target any audience on the planet using social media. And to do this, companies are willing to spend big bucks. Here are some numbers from 2021:

  • American luxury jeweller, Tiffany & Co., spent $100 million on advertising
  • HBO Max had an estimated digital advertising spend of $634 million
  • UK businesses spent $9 billion on social media
  • The global social media market was valued at $181 billion

With that much money at stake, businesses, no matter what size, have a lot to lose if their social media accounts are compromised.


We all know that the internet is written in ink, not pencil. As such, you have to be cognizant of what you post on social media. Likewise, you also need to be aware of how you post and share information and how you safeguard your accounts. Because we share so much information on social media websites including our personal and financial details, hackers consider these accounts as a one-stop shop for their evil intentions. Phishing is the most common and effective technique used whereby bad actors create a duplicate of an authentic login page. Hackers sometimes use keylogging, malware that records and monitors all your keystrokes. Cybercriminals are also fond of social engineering, man-in-the-middle-attacks and session hijacking by stealing cookies stored on your computer. Password hacking is also hugely problematic.


Not to be a gloom monger, but everyone is susceptible to social media hacking, not only personal users. According to UK business law specialists, Slater and Gordon, approximately 20% of SMEs had their social media accounts hacked in 2020. Of these, 38% had no processes in place for dealing with hacks while less than 50% employed a dedicated social media manager, believing that a young and inexperienced staff member was more tech-savvy. On a larger scale, Centcom, Skype, Burger King and Jeep have all been subjected to high-profile hacking.


Social media companies are also not immune to hacking. In 2016, 32 million Twitter accounts were compromised by Russian hackers. In 2019, the sensitive data of 49 million Instagram users was exposed. And saving the best for last – 2018 and 2019 were particularly troublesome years for Facebook. The tech giant experienced a total of 7 breaches that affected nearly 2 billion users.


Social media hacks have wide-ranging consequences. Besides having access to your account and being able to post anything they like, hackers can use this form of identity theft to potentially take over your website, spread malware, infect your network with ransomware, and conduct further exploitative phishing expeditions. The fact that your privacy, or that of your business, has been compromised, may leave your customers with a feeling of betrayal of trust. Recovering from financial loss is difficult enough but you may never be able to mend the reputational damage.


First off, many will say that only you can protect your data. Here are some top tips for protecting your accounts, your business and staying safe online:

  • Use strong and unique passwords applied with a password manager such as LastPass
  • Use two-factor authentication (2FA)
  • Vet any friend requests
  • Watch out for social media phishing scams in your email
  • Regularly scan with the latest anti-virus and anti-malware
  • Review your account permissions and restrict access to external apps


As a Millennial, I’m a big fan of Facebook – for both work and play. But I understand the importance of protecting my privacy and that of my business. If you have any concerns about securing your social media accounts and keeping your data out of harm’s way, please contact me. With over 20 years of experience in professional IT management and support, and specialising in cybersecurity, I can help you to stay secure online. Together, we’ll ensure that your accounts are never hacked and are always fit for purpose.

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