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Do you Facebook?Posted Monday, January 18, 2010, at 9:41 PM
It's a new world! By 2009 there were 321 million people, world-wide, on Facebook, which has largely replaced "My Space," as I understand it.
The appeal of the website is understandable. There is the siren song of quick access to your friends and relatives across the world. You can snap the new baby's picture and immediately post it on Facebook for all the relatives to see.
You can click over on the right margin and find all kinds of games to play and surveys to take. You can encourage your friends to play the games with you for added fun.
So popular is this amazing social tool that various organizations and businesses are jumping on board. I recently joined the facebook site for a local newspaper and a television station. The television station gives me access to news that I haven't been able to receive since the "Big Switch" switched me into the world of the unknowing and unseeing.
However, there are some worrisome aspects to this seemingly super-friendly "back-yard" approach to getting in touch with your friends.
For one thing, I just received an email advertisement from one of the restaurants that we were talking about on the Cape Girardeau Facebook page. Did I ask for that? I didn't, but it would seem that I opened myself up for it by clicking "become a fan."
I've also heard of Facebook fans having their computers infected with a virus. From what I gather, this can happen when you click on some of those cute applications at the right of the page.
There are even more sinister plots to watch for. In doing some research on the topic, I discovered several scams:
* The Nigerian 419 -- I first heard of this scam when my sister told me of getting an urgent e-mail from a friend, who said he was somewhere in Europe and needed money to get home. She had just attended a party at his house, so she called him and discovered that several of his friends had received the same message. Turns out that he had received a fake request from Yahoo.com to "update" his email account. When he did, a scammer hijacked his address book and sent out the phoney requests for money. The same decades-old scam has been adapted to Facebook.
* The Widget Warrior -- These are third-party applications that you can add onto your account. Unfortunately, Facebook doesn't always check these applications before posting them in their system. Some of the applications install spyware on your computer when you click on them.
* The Koobface Virus --- This is an anagram of "Facebook." When the virus infects your PC, it sends messages or wall postings to your Facebook friends, directing them to a "hilarious video" of someone you know. When you click on it, malware is installed on your computer.
* The Phishing Pond -- This is a favorite hacker tactic, whereby you are led to click on various links, which lead you to an official Facebook login prompt. It asks you to enter your user name and password. If you do, they have all your account information. You should instead go back to the original Facebook page and log in manually. Don't trust a request to login in the middle of a session.
I'm sure there are hundreds more schemes, whereby hackers and scammers misuse Facebook and other social networking sites.
Over and over, the advice is to be vigilant, suspicious, and wary in dealing with Facebook and any other social site. One woman may even face jail time, because she sent a "poke" to another woman who had a protection order against her.
So cautious am I that I wouldn't even join a group designed to count the number of Christians on Facebook.
Still, is it worth it to see those darling faces of my children and grandchildren? What'd you think??
From the dark, cold hills of remote Tillman, Missouri, this is your rural roving reporter, checking out Facebook before she pops off to bed.
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.