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June 14, 2010 [More archived home pages here]

Exposing Two Blog/Facebook Possible Exploitations By Users

The above image, Weblog Gulch

Today's song is Everyday People by Sly and the Family Stone, released in 1968.

Like many blog sites on the web, Facebook is a one place to express your views. Just because you are on a list named "Friends", doesn't mean everyone is friendly or even fair in the ensuing conversations.

Today I share some of my long held views on blogs, and for this message--Facebook. This information may be controversial to some. With the rapid growth of Facebook users, I offer my thoughts about a couple aspects of that social media that may not have been considered by some of you. Keep in mind much of this applies to other types of blogs as well, so I'm not saying Facebook is allowing anything different than the usual online membership experience. So, here we go!

Some of my friends in the past few months commented about being Facebook deleted by another and some feel badly about it. The reasons for deleting someone or being deleted can be many. Sometimes a person is deleted because the messages exchanged aren't in common agreement. That is the first part of today's message. The second part further down deals with "True Facebook Friendship?".

Part 1: There Is Life After Facebook Deletion

Some people can actually politely tolerate different or opposing views. Then there are those that have been so oppressed they cannot tolerate dissent. They apparently continue to be self-oppressed by their own behaviors long after the real oppression against them ended.

They clamor for a global audience. They invite or perhaps lure others to participate in large numbers, but not for an equal exchange. Their agenda is to use the platform's medium for their own selfish ends. They are often suspected by one or more of these traits: the inconsistency in language (saying one thing while meaning another); illogic they present in messages; unsubstantiated claims; and, the outburst of uncontrollable angst.

Beware, their presence is eventually belied in their irrational jumping to inaccurate conclusions, their unfounded rants, and their unjustified personal attacks. In their apparent final frustration with facing any reality but their own, they will delete your association with them. Then they can blindly persist in their one-sided conversations devoid of opposition, safe in the delusion they reinforce among each other.

They should not be missed by those so deleted. The deleters seemingly live in an alternative reality, not compatible with normal conversations of polite civilized people in the world at large present in the global Internet community. Leaving them alone with themselves seems to be the best course of action.

You can be deleted on their end, but don't be used by them.

Part 2: True Facebook Friendship?

Having "Friends" on Facebook may not always be the same as in-person friendships. In the former case, we are connecting with an "identity" online. In the latter case, we actually meet and greet people to form friendships. What is the difference and what do I mean by an "identity"?

An identity is a name on Facebook. That name may not represent a real person by that name or that name may not be related to a living person at all. How can that be?

There is a vulnerability present in gaining membership on Facebook and many blogs because typically an email address is the only validation requirement to join.

It's easy to create a "fake" email address using one of the many free and autonomous email services online. Once the fake account is established, it can be used to create an "identity" on Facebook. The fake email address tactic can be repeated as often as needed as long as a unique email address is generated each time. It would be better if blogs and Facebook alerted its users that other users of their services may not be who they say they are or even real. But alas, I digress.

Once the identity is created, any image can be used for the profile picture. Any kind of personal information can be inputted on the "Account" tab. Gender, address, and other typical types of information can be invented to make the identity seem real. The fake email address used to associate the account may not be displayed to help conceal the ruse. Again the "identity creation" process can be repeated with new characteristics applied each time. Why would this be done?

Once reason would be for a real account holder to create a "pool" of identities. Some of that pool can then, over time, make friends with other Facebook friends, presumably real. The purpose is to lurk or submit messages to the Wall's owner. Each identity can take a "position" on a Wall owner's topic and either encourage or disagree with that message.

Now that idea is more effective and likely to work when the Wall's Friends List is in the hundreds or thousands of names. At that count, it's easy to infiltrate with the pool of identities. This takes the form of the concept of "Devil's Advocate" except instead of one person playing that role, there are several identities pro and con along with some lurkers to see how the discussion develops.

You can imagine the possible mischief created when the pool of identities infiltrates the original Wall's list of friends and joins some of those lists as well.

This also provides a way to stay involved if one of the pool is deleted. Since more identities are actually still on that Wall, the beat goes on, so to speak.

Now sometimes, the Wall owner may also be utilizing a pool for much of the same reasons. They can use pool identities to start a controversy and then assume authority by deleting the "offending" pool identity and wait to see what the reactions are among the remaining Friends.

This practice may be frowned upon, but how is anyone supposed to police the practice or know if this is happening on their own Wall or another's they follow, unless a real person knows the other participants in-person? By the way, I don't have an answer for this situation. Consulting is a for-pay position and I wasn't raised to work for free. ;-)

I decided to write about Facebook's Possible Exploitations today because we all should try to remember what takes place online is not always real. There is always an element of risk involved for fraud and to be deleted is not the worst thing in the world to happen. You may have been done a favor if you have been!

If you are secure in yourself and keep your mind open to unexpected possibilities, you'll probably have a better online experience. :-)


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My Facebook friend, Kari, referenced this cool page of Native American art, The Native American Fine Art of Karen Noles.


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