Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Preventing social networking problems

The old saying is "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

This topic actually began over on LinkedIn, so some context is needed... First of all, I believe that everything on LinkedIn is a scam, some small, some huge. In response to yesterday's probable-scam-of-the-day, I actually offered a constructive suggestion in the Forum over there. LinkedIn responded by censoring it--but I have a copy to share with you and would be interested in YOUR priorities and how you would word your own message to be more or less welcoming.

I actually think this suggestion (with various modifications) would be relevant in most contexts that use a "follow your friends" type of linkage among members. LinkedIn, of course, but also Facebook, Slashdot, Reddit (?), Twitter, Ello, and other examples leap to mind.

This next part is based on the censored suggestion on LinkedIn, slightly edited to fit the Reddit [and Slashdot [and Ello [and Facebook [and now Blogger]]]] context:

[On LinkedIn] I have just been contacted by a probable scammer. Again.

At this point I am quite certain that LinkedIn has no sincere interest in solving these problems, and I didn't even have to study the ToS disclaimers to make sure. All I had to do was look at some of the discussions in this Forum [on the LinkedIn website] to see how they were NOT handled.

Notwithstanding, I'm going to suggest one extremely obvious countermeasure that would greatly reduce the problem. Allow us to send a message to people who want to establish connections with us [on LinkedIn]. Each of us might want to use a somewhat different message, and that is actually good in preventing wholesales scams (though my contact today might be retail).

My [own] version of the not-so-welcome message would basically list three conditions:

1: If you are an old friend or coworker, I am quite willing to hear from you and catch up on your news. However, in that case you know I'm a bit suspicious and would like to make sure you really are who you claim you are, so please include a bit of shared information. I also strongly recommend you ask me a question that you believe only I can answer to your satisfaction. Let's start by sharing some happy times? (Of course sad times will do, too, at least for the purpose of security checks.)

2: If you have some legitimate reason to contact me as a stranger, please say what it is, clearly and concisely.

3: If you are ANY kind of spammer or scammer, you do NOT want to bother me. I will do anything and everything in my power to nuke your identity, unless I can take stronger measures like helping to put you in jail.

Of course Condition 3 would depend upon support from LinkedIn [or other SNS], and it is quite obvious to me that LinkedIn is just another scam of a slightly more legal sort. I'd be delighted to be convinced otherwise. You [the LinkedIn people] could even fake it. After all, those annoying scammers who are abusing LinkedIn are interfering with your own monkey business.

P.S. More evidence of the negative value of LinkedIn in the available tags below [on LinkedIn]. Yes, "Invitations" is fairly relevant, and "Settings & privacy" is in the ballpark, but I also chose "Other" in lieu of "Reporting [suspected] scams", which is certainly one of the significant categories of my interactions with LinkedIn.

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