Watch out for the duck and the cat on Facebook
When Daisy Feletin - 21 and single - asked 100 people to be Facebook friends, 46 agreed. Dinette Stonily, 56 and married, asked another 100 and got 41"yeses" plus an additional eight who asked to friend her.
That's 95 people who were punked by Sophos, an Australian company that sells anti-virus, anti-spam and identity protection software. Daisy is a rubber duck and Dinette is a housecat. Not that there would be anything amiss with those avatars among my Facebook friends. I have flowers, dogs, and the Dalhi Lama. Neither fowl nor feline would seem odd.
Sophos created Daisy and Dinette, which appear to have been deleted, as a follow-up on a stunt in England in which 43 percent of the Facebook users who were asked agreed to be friends with a green plastic frog.
Sophos' claim: People are easily duped into giving up information that could lead to them being scammed, defrauded or embarrassed.
I mostly shrug, because people try to scam me virtually every day - and I'm not talking about my kids, either.
If it's not the email from the people who want me to write a post about genetic testing that will tell me my child's true potential - they'll give me USD270 to USD1200 if someone buys their product from my site! - it's the spammer who loves my post, has added my blog to the RSS reader and, oh, by the way, here's a link to a blackjack site.
As far as personal information I'm revealing, there's not a lot there of value, even though my profile is open to everyone.
Facebook shows only one thing that's not easily available by a Google search. While that bit of information might help someone who wanted to steal my identity, taken alone it's not enough to get it.
Email address? You can have it. It's far less revealing than listing a street address in the phone book - which I've never done, by the way. I suppose I'd be more concerned if I didn't already get an ungodly amount of spam.
Phone number? I don't list it on Facebook, but it's in the book anyway. Not that a scammer is going to reconcile the two. That would be too much like real work. Scammers want the easy stuff.
Birthdate? It's there but hidden from view. And only I and a few other people know if it's accurate. I fudge that one most site registrations because they simply don't need to know. A click box asking me to verify that I'm older than 13 would work just as well.
Address? Now that would be just stupid. Like I said, I don't even list that in the phone book.
I suppose if someone answered all Facebook questions fully and honestly, they'd have reason to be concerned that a deceitful duck or felonious feline befriended them.
With just a bit of common sense, though, you can friend all the frogs you want. You already know he's not going to turn into a handsome prince anyway.
Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.