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Posts Tagged ‘Spam’

SkillPages Email Spamming: A Warning, a Story, an Apology, & a P.S.A.

March 21, 2013 23 comments

SkillPages Home Page edit with spam notification

First, an apology to all of my contacts who I inadvertently spammed. I got taken in by SkillPages a service that is gaining users by spamming contacts of new members as soon as they sign up to the site.

I guess this is going to happen to the best of us sooner or later and it happened to me today. Even though I am generally super, duper cautious about what apps and sites I allow to access my data today I slipped up and the results were…horrible.  I received the below email this afternoon and thought to myself “Cool! A new site for connecting from a business perspective. Being the social media addict that I am I’ve got to check it out. As well, I know Jamie and he is a good guy who I trust not to send me spam. I am going to have to check this site out.”

SkillPages Spam Invite in Gmail

What I should have done was google the site. If I had, I would have seen these autocompletes*:

SkillPages Google Autocomplete

The above does not look like the kind of site I want to be associated with or allow to have my information without a lot more research. The third result is VIRUS for crying out loud! That is not promising but it gets worse.. Below is a screenshot of the Google search results for just the word “SkillPages”*: Read more…

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Facebook Friendship Doesn’t Opt Me In To Your Email List! Online Etiquette For The 21st Century

December 20, 2011 2 comments

I met a person in late April of 2010 (as evidence by the confirmation email of our friend status on Facebook still archived in my account) and have seen him once or twice since then but – as many of you already know – being a Facebook friend doesn’t mean you’re necessarily “real” friends. He added me to LinkedIn in May of this year and a couple of days after I accepted his invitation to connect I got an email from him with the subject: “Introduction to Real Estate.”

I had never given this guy my email address (aside from it being listed on LinkedIn and Facebook) and the email he sent was unsolicited and was all about how he was beginning a business as a ‘Real Estate Sales Representative.’ Great for him but I was confused as to how I had been added to his list of people to send the announcement to. I emailed him back and had the conversation you see below:

Note: The only changes I have made were to remove identifying information.

His reply to my final email as you see above was to explain to me how he did it. He either didn’t get how perturbed I was (read between the lines dude!) or didn’t care. I wasn’t happy about the whole thing but let it go after that because it didn’t seem worth fighting over and being a jerk about. I assumed I was not the only one who had the nerve to call him out on spamming people. I also, quite obviously, opted out of receiving further emails from him.

When he joined Twitter a month later – in June – he started following me. I gladly gave him some advice on how to be more effective for his business on Twitter thinking that helping him would mean he was less likely to be spamming people. I told him to first and foremost change the default profile picture which he did pretty quickly and then mentioned a couple of other things which seem pretty obvious to the average person who spends a lot of time on Twitter and the social web but may not be to others.

Then the night of December 12th I had another conversation with Lani. The conversation you see below is one that actually happened and is unedited. When reading it remember that I was half asleep as it began at 12:45am and that this wasn’t the first time that I had dealt with him and was already quite wary of the way he conducted himself online…remember I had also been following him on Twitter for half a year and saw him pretty much ignore all of my suggestions.

Conversation with a Facebook & Email Spammer

The full conversation, the only edit I have made is to white out his name.

If you read the beginning of our conversation you’ll see I was being as noncommittal as possible. I tried to avoid the issue giving brief sort of funny smart aleck answers to his questioning and he should have just left it at that. If someone isn’t at all interested in the conversation how far do you keep pushing? After I could see he wasn’t getting it I just straight up called him as I saw him – a spammer. I also sort of saw it as my right once he called me a ‘guru’ which I don’t think I am but if he was going to call me a guru which meant he considered me a master and leader and teacher I was going to do my duty to him and teach him. Sure I could have sugar-coated it but he clearly hadn’t gotten it before when I had tried to do that via our email exchange so this time I had had enough.

Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities 5.7 highlighted

Oh, after this exchange he decided to unfriend me on Facebook. Sure, I was rude but was I in the right? I totally think so. What he had done with his email stunt was actually illegal according to Facebook’s rules. As you can see above, Facebook has very specific rules for people using Facebook and for protecting its user’s rights. The Facebook “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” says that “[i]f you collect information from users, you will: obtain their consent, make it clear you (and not Facebook) are the one collecting their information, and post a privacy policy explaining what information you collect and how you will use it.” Lani’s entire argument for how he was

I know this was a long preamble but it brings me to a few points of etiquette that everyone should already be aware of but it seems they are not:

  • If I hand you a business card that does not mean I am opting in for your email list. It means I want you to have my email and for you to personally be able to get in touch with me.
  • Facebook friendship does not mean I have opted in to your email list.
  • The fact that you have an opt-out option in your email list is irrelevant. Those listed have to have opted-in to your list in some way before you can send that first email. Even if it wasn’t a direct violation of Facebook’s rules and what is legal and illegal in Canada and the USA (according to privacy laws) it is an extreme breach of trust given to you when I friended you on Facebook.
  • You are not Jean Valjean (aka 24601) and the fact that this is your livelihood you are breaking the law for does not make it OK to break the law and breach people’s trust by misusing their information. By that logic we should be doing nothing to stop spammers and hackers because it is their livelihood to do malicious things on the internet (OK, some of them are just jerks but you get the point).

Also, don’t call someone a guru if you don’t darn well mean it. I don’t think I am a guru, I think I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the knowledge I would need to amass before I could even hope to meet with a guru and be able to have an intelligent conversation with them beyond the words “Hello, my name is Dan.” BUT as I said above, if you submit yourself to my teachings by calling me a guru don’t get insulted when you don’t like what you hear. I call them as I see them and give people straight answers.

When people comment on this blog and when I comment on other people’s blogs (usually requiring an email address to be entered) I don’t expect to be added to mailing list. How many blogs have you seen which go out of their way to assure you that they take your privacy very seriously when you give them your email address, there’s a reason for that.

Do you have anything to add to this? Have things like this ever happened to you? Think I was too harsh on him in our Facebook conversation? Let me know!

 Sketched Mailbox with ‘@’ symbol aka MC900341788 via Microsoft Office

Facebook “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.” You can find the full text here.

Changes Facebook MUST MAKE To Photo Tag Options & Privacy Settings

January 18, 2011 9 comments

Current Facebook Privacy Options only allow you to set who can SEE tagged photos & videos of you

In the post “Simple Things About Facebook That Need Changing!” from August 9, 2009 I talked about a number of things centered around the message inbox & events that I thought Facebook needed to change to make their users’ experience more enjoyable. I know Facebook has made changes to the inbox in late 2010 but on my account I do not have the changes implemented yet. However, as far as I know, they have not put into place the changes I suggested a year and a half ago. Either way, I have some more changes that I feel Facebook needs to make and I actually feel even more strongly about these. These changes were relevant when I wrote that first post, I just hadn’t thought of them yet. It is just as well, because I feel that with the new profile pages showcasing the 5 most recently tagged pictures of you at the top this issue has become even more relevant. The content of this post has been banging around my head for a while but over the past week I had a discussion with my friend Jonathan about this and I decided I was finally going to write about it.

The Problem, A Solution, & An Annoying Result Of The Status Quo

People’s profiles on social media sites have become hot topics recently. There have been stories and articles about people caught cheating on schoolwork, people not getting hired, people getting fired from jobs, people being evicted, and even getting caught lying in attempts to avoid national conscription. It is obviously very important to have a handle on the privacy settings and options of our profiles on social media sites like Facebook. One of the major issues I have seen with Facebook specifically is in the options available to us to control pictures and videos being tagged on Facebook. Currently, we are only able to (as shown above) decide who amongst your friends, network, and the general public can see the photos and videos in which you’re tagged. We cannot, however, decide who can actually DO the tagging of us on Facebook. If we are friends with a person on Facebook, they can tag us in any picture or photo or video they please. This is something that must change. Facebook must IMPLEMENT A SETTING ALLOWING USERS CONTROL OVER WHO CAN AND CANNOT TAG THEM in pictures and videos. That is, unless Facebook decides to implement my second suggestion of tag management which I will get to below.

People who have also began to use this to their advantage and most people’s annoyance are promoters and organizers of parties and events. I have begun to notice a trend of being tagged in images of flyers for events where I’m not actually in the picture and it is actually a poster for the event. It’s the new tactic for promoters of parties and events to tag us in their event posters uploaded onto Facebook as opposed to merely inviting us to the event. This serves the purpose of not only getting the information about the event out to us but it also shows up on our Facebook news feeds so everyone else we are friends with sees the event to as it is shows up as a photo that has been tagged of us. An example of this type of tagging I have taken a screenshot of below.

Event Flyer uploaded & tagged on Facebook as if it was a real photo.

One of the most ironic things about the picture is that the person who posted this event advertisement and tagged all those people so doesn’t want his privacy compromised that he doesn’t have his full name on Facebook. Instead he prefers to remain on the site only identified with the last name “Br” which are the first two letters of his last name. I also chose his name to hover my mouse over to highlight what they are tagging. Cyrille Br is a guy, he is definitely NOT that model.

Another Solution

The other solution is somewhat close to the first one in that it allows more control over who tags you and where you are tagged. This method, however, acts as more of a stopgap to inappropriate tagging than a preventative. Basically, Facebook should allow you to turn on a setting where any time someone tags you in a photo or video on the site YOU GET TO APPROVE IT BEFORE IT GOES PUBLIC.

No longer will you wake up and find out the pictures from the wild party you went to last night have been uploaded to Facebook with you tagged in them and you hurriedly untag them hoping no one you know has seen them. Or, even worse, you wake up and find those same pictures uploaded only in this case 83 people – including your family, co-workers, and superiors – have already commented on them (or even worse, maybe it’s the phone call from your outraged significant other, parent, or grandparent that woke you in the first place).

Personally I like this second solution better than the first as it is just one click solution from the user standpoint and we won’t have to start dividing friends into lists of who can and who cannot tag us. It also means we won’t ever have the problem of thinking we can trust someone not to tag something inappropriate only to find out way too late that we really can’t. Removing them from the ‘trusted’ list at that point wouldn’t really help in the here and now.

Those are my solutions to the problem, what do you think?

Simple Things About Facebook That Need Changing!

August 9, 2010 2 comments

I am not writing this post about Facebook privacy. This is more about the user interface of Facebook and how I feel they can make it more user-friendly.

I was, as usual, on Twitter today and a friend of mine tweeted asking:

How much spam do you get in your Facebook inbox? Or am I the only one who gets all this crap?“.

I responded that of course she was not the only one who gets all that crap. The question brought to mind a realization I had about Facebook’s Message Inbox deficiency a little while ago. The deficiency being that you can’t search for anything in your Inbox aside from messages from friends. This means that all those messages you get from events and groups of which you aren’t a friend of the creator or organizer are impossible to search for by name. This is something Facebook needs to fix in my opinion.

One other thing that I think helps contribute to Facebook spam is the fact that even after a Facebook event has occurred the organizers of the event can still access, and send a mass message to, everyone on the guest list. This means that if you have any events in your past events listing that you just clicked the “Not Attending” button when you decided to RSVP – or even never clicked anything and they’re still “Waiting for a Reply” – the organizers of that event have the ability to mass message you at any time of their choosing until you click the “Remove from My Events” link at the bottom of the event page. Facebook needs to add an optional setting at the very least that if you click “Not Attending” or never reply that it should automatically delete the event after a given amount of time.

The reason why I say the setting should be optional and why I say it should be after a given amount of time is because I believe there ARE benefits to having the list saved for both the people invited and for the people who organized the event. As well, even the benefit I see for the organizers is really also a benefit for the invited people (whether they attended or not).

    Benefits to the invited people:

– They can keep track of what events they have been to and where/when it was. Sort of like a journal of things you’ve done. (Assuming you don’t click Attending and then don’t show up).
– They can, after the event, have an easier time finding a new friend they met at the event on Facebook assuming that person was invited to the event.

    Benefits to the organizers (not including ability to spam the invited 6 months to a year later)

– They can send out a survey and see what people liked & did not like about their event and then try to improve on it in the future.
– They can offer people to join a group for photos/videos from the event or send them a link to the same offsite.

But like I said before there should be a termination period for the time you are listed in an event and event should be eventually deleted off your list. At the very least the ability for people to send messages to the attendees of an event a year ago should be removed so we don’t keep getting these spam messages.

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