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‘Why I’m avoiding social media’

PUBLISHED: 09:27 24 April 2020 | UPDATED: 09:33 24 April 2020

Helen would rather talk on the phone than worry about scams and spam on social media  Picture; Getty Images/iStockphoto

Helen would rather talk on the phone than worry about scams and spam on social media Picture; Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Helen McDermott would rather chat on the phone than worry about internet scams.

Like a lot of people I’m persuading my phone and computer to work overtime, more than they’ve ever done before, but I’m still avoiding Twitter and Facebook. Chatting to friends is better done by phone. As far as news is concerned radio, TV and newspapers still seem to me a far more reliable way of getting the whole, rounded picture of our current situation.

I’m sure social media have their uses though I can’t see them being much use to me. I suppose if you’re in business they can be a way of promoting what you’ve got to offer, but from what I hear you need to take care that you don’t expose too much about your personal life that allows undesirables to get their hooks into you. It’s not just on social media either.

Every day there’s a scam story, the scammers never give up trying to get money out of the unsuspecting, often pretending to be collecting for charities to try and fight the virus. A recent one was calling itself The Corona Charity Fund, making persuasive phone calls attempting to part us from our money. Don’t be fooled. If you get a call from this lot don’t hang around, HANG UP.

I used to get emails from some illiterate idiot threatening that unless I paid up in Bitcoins he would expose my sordid love life. Oh, yeah? Does he know something that I don’t? A few years ago the other half had a string of touching emails from someone called Nigel declaring his undying love and pleading for money on the grounds that if the other half sent it they could be together forever. How desperate can you get?

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Whatever reservations I may have about social media there appear to be even more ways of communicating in cyberspace. I know that Zoom and one or two others have proved invaluable to some people but the more of this stuff there is crowding into cyberspace, the more security worries are on the increase.

A friend became hooked on a thing called House Party. Apparently, it’s become hugely popular in these lockdown days. It’s a way of meeting friends who invite you to join them online. Anyone can join in, even without permission, if they happen to be friends with one of the people in the group. But it comes with a warning.

The campaigning charity Internet Matters claims it could become a threat to youngsters by allowing their private chats to be joined by unwanted other users. Parents are being advised to make their children aware of how important it is to be on the safe side and “lock” their chats. Internet Matters says that though there’s a 12-plus age rating it’s easy for youngsters to get round this and sign up because there’s no effective age verification process. Vulnerable younger children need protecting from what can be seen and heard sometimes on House Party.

As if it isn’t difficult enough for parents coping with children at home, trying to school them, now they have to be extra vigilant with dangerous online contacts. You really would have hoped, with hundreds dying each day, that scammers – scummers, as I prefer to call them – could turn their cyber skills to good use and help the community. Dream on.

We are lucky to be blessed with great neighbours, Nikki for instance. Not only does she get shopping for her vulnerable parents (and occasionally us) and look after her lovely daughters, she also plies her needle for Norfolk Scrubs Volunteers, making scrubs, hats and wash bags for health and care workers. From a group of four volunteers it’s grown into an army of more than eight hundred. Nikki and her husband Craig also have a business to run and care for in these difficult days yet they still make time to help others.

The other member of their household is Bert, a labradoodle who is the size of a pony and soft as anything. He knows nothing about Covid-19, nor does he care. What I care about is the arrival as soon as possible of the day when I can once again give that big dog Bert a big cuddle.


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