Monday, May 19, 2014

Linked-In Scams

Linked-In is the latest targets for a number of scams.   Problem is, Linked-In spams its users so mercilessly that it is hard to tell the scam e-mails from the real deal.

Even though I closed my Linked-In account more than a year ago, I still get e-mails purportedly from Linked-In, claiming that someone wants to "friend" me or whatever they call it.   The e-mails look real, but apparently they are not, and are designed to load a trojan that steals bank account information.   Some fun!

But a lot of other people, including myself, were reporting that Linked-In was apparently sending out friend requests under your name, to random people in their universe.   I found several names on my list of connections, and have no idea how they got there.  These are people I have never known, contacted, or had anything to do with.   They are in fields that are as far away from my endeavors as possible.

Worse yet, I ended up getting many requests to connect from people I have never heard of, as well.

So, I shut down my account with Linked-In and walked away from it.   I never got anything out of it, and I suspect few people do.  It is just another time-waster for people in the cubicle who want to something to do besides work.  (hint:  Start a blog, instead).

I have written about Linked-In before, with its staggering over-valuation in the stock market - an astounding 445 at the time of this writing, predicted to be nearly 3,000 next year (how is that even possible?).  (According to other sources, their P/E ratio is over 800) Even Facebook has better numbers than this - and they are declining as well!

Is Linked-In the victim of online fraudsters - or is it just showing flop sweat?   In the social networking arena, having lots of links and connections between people is essential, so that folks, when they go online, fell "connected".   Still others like to inflate their resume, so to speak, by linking with as many people as possible.   

Linked-In plays the social media game of asking everyone in your e-mail address book to link with you.   This not only includes addresses you have added to the address book, but apparently also people you have received e-mail from.   This could get sticky.

Say, for example, Tom is a young accountant who is married and has two kids.   Tom also likes to go online and cruise various sex sites, which his wife does not know about.   He sends an e-mail to someone who is on such a site, thinking that "TOM123456" is sufficient anonymity to protect his identity.   "Cherry" who is a buxom blond (or says she is, online anyway) answers his e-mail.  They exchange some harmless flirting over the Internet and Tom thinks that is all there is to it.

But a month later, "Cherry" (actually a middle-aged man) gets a Linked-In invitation from "Tom".  Intrigued she/he goes on the site and finds out Tom's real name, address, phone number, marital status, work status, the name of his employer, etc.

It is a blackmail scenario waiting to happen.

Social media sites like that are dangerous, as they make "connections" to people you might not want to connect to.   Google Plus is just as bad, as it is by default, turned ON, when you use a Google product, and it automatically suggests that you "connect" with people "you may know" - someone you may have e-mailed long ago.

The problem is, suppose it was someone you were trying to avoid or wanted nothing to do with?  Social Networking sites allow you to "Friend" someone, but not "Unfriend" them, at least not in a dramatic way.  You can "Like" things and people, but not "loathe" or "despise".   Social networking sites presume that everyone is happy-go-lucky and no one has an abusive ex-spouse that you had to get a restraining order against.

And this is a situation that could backfire for Linked-In and others, if they are making connections that the users did not request.

Social Networking Seasickness, is the term I have attached to this and other phenomenon - the idea that you really don't know what is going on with your Social Network - what it is doing, who it is spamming in your name, what the terms of service allow them to do, or what you can even view in your own "news feed" half the time.   It is disorienting as you have no idea or only a rough idea of what is going on.   You have no control - some nameless algorithm does.

For this and other reasons, I closed my Linked-In and Facebook accounts.   I would like to close my Google Plus account as well, but it erases all my YouTube videos if I do.   I may just go ahead and do that, anyway, as no one watches them!

Social Networking - you can always just say "No."