Taking the Mickey…

As the saying goes “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog…“.  It’s far too easy for people to pretend they are someone or something they are not.  Sometimes, that’s a good thing, but more often than not, it’s bad.  Anyone can create fake profiles on social media and use them to fool people into parting with their money.

This is why social media sites like Facebook and Twitter created ‘verified’ profiles. You can be sure if someone has a blue tick beside their name, they are who they say they are.  This is very important if you’re going to share a post, provide personal details or enter into a financial transaction.

These fake sites will often use a legitimate business name to fool people.  Let’s use Disney as an example.  Everyone knows the name, Disney. It’s a worldwide brand with a certain degree of trust associated with it.  This is how fraudsters take advantage of people.  They create a fake page and get you to share its post or provide your personal details. Then you wonder why you’ve never one a holiday or a cruise or free tickets. Disney isn’t the only victim, there are well-known pages claiming to give away RVs or cars, all using the same tactics.

In almost all cases, these big companies will never ask you to share a post to win something.  If they do, be sure the page is the real one.  Look for the blue tick beside their name.  Please note, the tick mark should NOT appear as part of their profile image.  Anyone can put a tick in an image using simple graphics software.  The tick will be beside their name only.

In the image below, you can see a common trick fraudulent pages use – a full stop (or period) after their name.  Both fake Disney pages on the left have one, and in addition, the bottom one shows irrelevant category.  These are common tricks used to fool people.

disney-tick

Both Facebook and Twitter have a process that allows you to request verification.  This isn’t available for every page but is very useful for big brands, business and celebrities.

If you see your friends sharing these sorts of fake pages, let them know they are scams and likely to compromise their personal information. And of course, tell them about this blog, and Phil The Geek on Facebook!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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YouTube in Trouble

Google-owned YouTube is in trouble.  A number of high-profile brands pulled their advertising from the site over the last week or so.   There have been complaints that these adverts are being shown alongside extremist content – whether that be terror related, homophobic, anti-semitic or white supremacists.

Brands such as The Guardian, M&S, BBC, AT&T, Verizon, and Johnson & Johnson have all pulled, or temporarily halted their ads for the time being.   Obviously, no brand with any sense wants their image associated with such undesirable content.

The problem is the automatic placing of the adverts – there’s little ‘human’ control over where the adverts get placed. The software that determines the placement of ads isn’t smart enough to realise the type of content.  Understandably, advertisers have had enough.

Google has apologised and promised to give more control to the advertisers allowing them more control where their ads appear.  How soon this happens remains to be seen.

Google and YouTube need big advertisers, as do the many users who create money making content.  They can’t afford to be so complacent in the future.

 

 

Don’t PIN your hopes on this…

One of the more persistent hoaxes floating around the internet is the ‘reverse PIN’.  It claims that entering your PIN in reverse at a bank machine (or ATM) will alert the police if you’re being forced to withdraw hoaxmoney.  This hoax has been doing the rounds since 2006.

It’s NOT true.  If you see someone sharing this hoax email or a post on Facebook and they refuse to believe it’s false, ask them this:

What if your PIN is 8118 or 7777 or 3223?  Those are the same forwards and backwards.  If this hoax was actually true, then banks would not allow you to have ‘palindromic’ PINs.  If they did that, many PIN combinations would not be permitted and it would be far easier to crack.

Those are the same forwards and backwards.  If this hoax was actually true, then banks would not allow you to have ‘palindromic’ PINs.  If they did that, many PIN combinations would not be permitted, thus making the system less secure.

The actual concept of entering your PIN in reverse has been discussed in the past but it has never been implemented anywhere.

It would be unlikely to work anyway.  How many people with a gun pointed at them would be able to easily remember their PIN, let alone what it is in reverse?  In addition, if the police were alerted, by the time they got to that location, the criminal would be long gone.

Keeping your PIN safe is extremely important.  When you are at a bank machine or purchasing something in the shops, be sure you shield the keypad from prying eyes.  Be aware of your surroundings and look for anything unusual that might be attached to the bank machine.  Card readers and small cameras can be attached to steal your PIN.  If you’re not sure, don’t use it.  Go into the bank and let them know.

Finally, if you ever see your friends share this reverse PIN hoax, be sure to let them know it is not true and give them a link to this post or simply use Google and search a phrase like “is the reverse PIN story true” – you’ll have your answer very quickly.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Add Fuel To The Fire

Social media goes into overdrive during large-scale events – whether that’s a sporting match, a natural disaster or a terrorist attack.  It can be of tremendous help, but it can also cause problems.

The speed of the internet allowed up to the minute details of yesterday’s attack in London to be quickly broadcast.  It also meant individuals were able to let their loved ones know they were safe.  Using the internet to do that can be faster and more effective than calling or texting as the ‘bandwidth’ for the voice calls will be needed by emergency responders.

The downside: it also allows the easy sharing of rumours and speculation.  That can lead to confusion and the wrong people being identified.  That turns into witch hunts, and ruins lives, both the accused and the accusers.  In the recent past, people have been prosecuted for spreading ‘witch hunt’ type rumours over the internet.

When terror attacks happen, it’s all too easy to let your heart lead instead of your head.  You’ll find pages on Facebook specifically set up to take advantage of this.  Clickbait sites can quickly gather followers and popularity by posting images that speak to your emotions.  “Share this photo to show respect / catch the killer” is a common approach.  They tug at your heartstrings and hope you’ll share it without a second thought.

That is exactly what they want.  It leads to false information being spread, the vilification of specific groups of people and of course it raises that page’s profile.  Clickbait pages can take you to other suspect sites, generating revenue for them, and could compromise your profile information.

A good example: the right-wing group, Britain First has been using the image of the murdered soldier, Lee Rigby, on its social media platforms to further their cause. This is in spite of repeated requests from his family to stop using his name and image to fuel their agenda.

Even high-profile media sources can get it wrong sometimes. So unless you’re 100% certain you can trust the source (and maybe verify elsewhere), just scroll on by and don’t share the information.

Buzzfeed has published an article about the misinformation spreading online about this attack which is worth a read.

In distressing times, don’t let the bad guys win, you could be doing more harm than good.

 

What’s Your “ICE”?

The incident in Westminster, London, today is a good reminder to have your “ICE” contacts set up on your phone. “ICE” stands for In Case of Emergency. If you’re in need of help and unable to use your phone, emergency responders will know your ICE contact should be contacted. You can create a new ICE contact in your address book and you can also add this information to your ‘lock’ screen – see this link on how to do it.

http://uk.pcmag.com/productivity-products/70260/feature/how-to-add-emergency-info-to-your-phones-lock-screen

 

Share or Copy/Paste?

Just about everyone on Facebook will have a seen a post from a friend which is clearly not original but rather like a chain letter.  It’s often called a ‘viral message’.  Often they have included the phrase “in honour of someone who has…” or “I’m doing this for a friend to show…“.

In almost all cases, it asks you to ‘copy and paste this as your status and NOT share it.’

So why is that? Why don’t they want you to click the share button?  It’s certainly much easier to share a post then copy the text and create a new post of your own.   I bet if you asked your friend why they don’t want you to click share, I bet they won’t be able to tell you why.  Today’s blog post explains why.

Sharing The Post

If you click “share” on your friend’s post, the only ones who will see it are those people with whom your friend shares posts.  Your friends who are NOT friends with person whose post you are sharing will NOT see it. Confused?  Think of it this way:  if you have 100 friends but you only have 15 common, then only those 15 will see the post when you share it.  In addition, if the original post is removed, then ALL the  shares from other people are deleted as well.

If you’re trying to spread a message far and wide (regardless of the content), it’s not a very effective way of doing it. copypaste

Copy and Paste

If you copy the text and paste it into a NEW post on YOUR profile then ALL of your friends have the potential to see it. We say ‘potential’ as there’s no guarantee they will, due to other factors (their timeline settings, the ability to be a ‘friend’ but not follow’ etc. but that’s a subject for another post).

If you have 100 friends, that’s a potential 100 people who will see it.  If all those 100 friends then did the same as you, then all their friends could see the post. It’s easy to see how quickly the number of duplicate posts will spread.  If you delete your post, the other 99 who copy and pasted your post will still be there.

If the post is a scam or just simply untrue, then it is very hard to find out who started it in the first place.

Remember the advice your parents gave you? If your friends jumped off a cliff would you do it too?  It’s exactly the same here.

Stop and think before you copy and paste a viral message.  Is there any actual positive effect of sharing it in the first place?  If not, then don’t. You may be doing more harm than good.

Of course, you are more than welcome to SHARE this post.  You can do so by clicking the buttons below.

Just The Facts Ma’am

#FakeNews is everywhere and it’s getting harder to tell what’s true and what isn’t.   Some sites are very clever and so convincing they fool many people.  It always makes me smile when they fool politicians who gleefully share the news, then end up having egg on their face afterwards.  If seasoned politicians, who SHOULD be media aware, are fooled, what chance does the average joe have?  

First, if you’re not sure it’s true, DON’T share it.  Not even to say “I’m not sure if it’s true or not but…”.   Once a false story is out on the net, it takes on a life of its own and people will believe it because “so and so shared it”.

Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution.  Make your motto: “Be Sure. Then Share”. Get your facts checked first. This brief, but helpful video, from Channel 4 ‘s Facebook Page provides some helpful tips.  

When you’ve watched that, have a look at the LINKS page for a list of current satircal news sites.

Sharing Isn’t Always Caring

Sharing posts on social media is part of what makes social media interesting and fun. When you share photos of your pets, your child’s successes, your favourite movie and more, it all add to the experience.

It’s also very easy to share things that have emotional appeal despite not having any idea on the trustworthiness of the source.  Have you ever seen people share ‘missing person’ posts on Facebook?  Maybe you’ve seen your friends do this or have done it yourself. While the intention is good, are you certain you are sure of the source?  More often than not, the source is a ‘family member’ or ‘friend’ saying “we haven’t seen John Doe for two weeks now, please share this with everyone”.

Unless you know who is sharing the original missing person post, you might want to think again after reading this helpful advice from the Kindersley branch of the RCMP on their Facebook page.  Just like sharing dubious news without checking the source can cause problems, so can sharing missing persons post unless your 100% of the source.

rcmp

Something to think about in the future. If you see your friends sharing these types of posts, you may wish to let them know about the RCMP’s advice.

 

Scammers Target Talk Talk Customers

“TalkTalk customers are being targeted by an industrial-scale fraud network…” reports the BBC. It’s a good reminder to always be wary of cold callers asking for information or suggesting you need to install software on your computer to “fix” problems.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-39177981

You may wish to revisit this earlier post on the Top Ten Scams of 2017.

Top Ten Scams in 2017

The internet is an amazing place full of amazing people doing amazing things. Unfortunately, it has its share of bad people doing bad things. There’s always someone out there trying to take advantage of you.

Don’t let them. Have a read of the Top 10 Scams going on right now as published by the Better Business Bureau – Vancouver Island, BC branch.

If you know of any scams or have been a victim of one, get in touch – it might help others avoid becoming victims.