Friday, February 22, 2008

Facebook for Kids? Not If Marketers and Spammers have their say about it

At the BeeB, Roy Cellan-Jones (their tech blogger) took a look at the latest drop in UK Facebook users and suspects that "most of the over-25 age group will now find they can live without it. That still leaves a large core audience, but one that Facebook may find slightly harder to sell to the advertisers on whom its future depends"....well, I guess Roy didn't see this little tid-bit in MediaPost about Facebook allowing marketers to "create more dynamic profile pages through new tools including custom versions of Flash animation and HTML..."

But that's not all: Facebook Pages--the name for the new branded pages--will now allow "fans" to upload photos (be careful--you could end up in a vodka ad!) and has installed settings so that alcohol-related products can block underage users (over-age users be careful! you could end up on a vodka ad!) See Inside Facebook for more...

Yet an even bigger problem looms in social networks, regardless of whether it's home to kids or not: security from malware adware and other targeted attacks. As reported in InfoWorld security experts fear that soc. networking sites provide the perfect vehicle for these kinds of attacks (and more Internet nasties.) And these experts aren't talking just LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace (where Alicia Keys' site was horrifically hacked)--they're thinking, too of eBay and PayPal as well.
"There are more than 150 million active Web sites worldwide and MySpace has something like 200 million pages; that speaks to the challenge facing these companies to secure themselves and there's no way for any security vendor to crawl all those URLs and put them in a database to use white listing or blacklisting," said Dan Nadir, vice president of product strategy at ScanSafe, a provider of hosted security services.

"We're already seeing extremely complex, well-designed attacks on these sites where there is a lot of content modification aimed at tricking the end user, with people trying to put malware on their own pages or someone else's," he said. "Companies need to realize that it's not just about malware being on porn sites or free screensaver pages anymore. Social networking is where the activity is heading, and companies need to wake up and protect themselves."

But it's not just companies--we have to protect ourselves as well. As I observed once you get into any number of soc. network, you may have a very difficult time getting out. Now, I guess our neglected, useless and abandoned profiles it could, unbeknown to us, hacked and used as a vehicles for spreading all kinds of bad crap.

Another reason to keep wicked vigilant about where you post a profile and why you should always keep track of all those profiles.

Note to self: try to get neglected profiles removed from "dead" social networking sites!!

Another note: MediaPost, one of my favorite online pubs, recently went "social." I am extremely disappointed by this, as I really see no need for me to develop a profile on MediaPost's site. Yet I love reading their articles and occasionally like to post a comment. I'm in a quandry about this--and am becoming even more concerned over online publications that feel this desperate need to become social networks. Further, with Facebook's new announcement, I'm feeling more and more like my social network profiles are just as much a target for marketers as they might be for malware developers. I hate to see marketing take all the fun out of social networking, but I would be surprised any more if it eventually did.


Sarah said...

Hey there! I just added you to Please let me know if that's not ok, and if you know of any other Smithies I should add, please let me know that as well!

Tish Grier said...

Hi Sarah,

glad that you added me! I've thought about doing a project like you've started, but just never seemed to get around to doing it. Email me and I'll let you in on some of the stuff I know about other blogging Smithies