Exclusive: most social media users encounter scams on a weekly basis at least

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Social media users are becoming ever more adept at spotting scams, but many still need to remain alert, an exclusive TechRadar Pro study has found.

Firstly, respondents were asked what social media platforms they used. Facebook came out on top with just under 80% being active on the networking site. Instagram was next with 68.1%, and Tiktok and Twitter were closely contested for third place with just under 50% apiece using them (49.8% and 47.5% respectively). 

LinkedIn and WhatsApp rounded out the last two of the mainstream platforms, with 35.8% and 33.4% respectively. 6.6% said they used other social media platforms to these, with 3.7% using none at all.

Scam spotting

The results for how often scams were encountered on social media platforms were pretty evenly split. Just over a third came across them once a day, and just over a quarter said once a week. Only 15% said once a month, and under a third said less than a month.

Scams on social media platforms have been on the rise since the pandemic, reaching a peak in 2021, and remaining prominent this year as well. Unsurprisingly, prime sales periods, such as Black Friday and the festive season, often see an increase in the perpetration of scams. 

Thankfully, most felt confident or very confident – 30.9% and 34.4% respectively – that they could identify them. A quarter said they were a little bit, and only 10% said they were not very.

That confidence may be misplaced, however, given that other reports have shown a fair amount of users fall for popular scams on social media, such as phishing campaigns and fake gift card offers. 

Cryptocurrency scams have also been growing in popularity in recent years on social media. Ads for fake exchanges will promote ‘investment opportunities’, with the promise of increasing a victim’s wallet substantially. Some have even used videos of Elon Musk discussing crypto to lure people in. 

There are numerous ways to spot social media scams, though. One telltale sign is that if a deal looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Another is to check the address of any links before clicking them, to make sure they actually take you to the official site of the company in question. 

Checking that a website looks professional and is free from any glaring spelling mistakes and grammatical errors is also key to spotting fake websites.

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