Filed Under: People, Social Media and Organisations

Frenemy of the state

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[Dave Birch] More on Facebook’s “real names” nonsense. Their S1 filing admits to 1 in 20 bogus accounts, but who knows what the real figure is. None of my Facebook accounts are in my “real name” and I doubt I’m the only one.

“There may be individuals who have multiple Facebook accounts in violation of our terms of service, despite our efforts to detect and suppress such behavior. We estimate that false or duplicate accounts may have represented approximately 5-6% of our MAUs as of December 31, 2011.”

[From Major Changes In Facebook’s Amended S-1: Mobile Ads, Zynga, Yahoo Patents, Credit | TechCrunch]

I don’t really care about this, except for the fact that if people believe that Facebook, or any other online space is a “real name” space, then that does more harm than good because people who don’t really understand how all of this works could be misled and I can see how that might lead to problems. Still let’s hope that some people (e.g., sex offenders) do use their real names…

A new app will let you check all your Facebook friends against the National Sex Offender Registry.

[From Are Your Facebook Friends Sex Offenders?]

This isn’t all about dating scams, crime and teenage bullying. It’s national security as well. How Facebook know whether someone’s name is real or not I have no idea, and I certainly don’t believe for one moment that they are capable of distinguishing agents of foreign powers from “legitimate” users. Nor, for that matter, is anyone else.

NATO’S most senior commander was at the centre of a major security alert when a series of his colleagues fell for a fake Facebook account opened in his name – apparently by Chinese spies

[From How spies used Facebook to steal Nato chiefs’ details – Telegraph]

I read this with a certain nostalgia. When I worked at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Personnel Europe (SHAPE) Technical Centre in the Hague in the early 1980s, my first day on the job began with an extensive lecture on the security responsibilities attendant on our clearance level. I was working on a project concerned with keeping secure communications networks up and running in the event of a Russian nuclear attack, which was quite interesting, and once we had been sternly advised to be wary of beautiful tall blonde Eastern European women striking up conversations with us in supermarkets, I spent literally every waking hour of my young life praying for this to happen. It never did, but if there are any beautiful tall blonde Eastern European women who have any interest in white-noise jamming of direct sequence spread spectrum satellite channels, here are my contact details:

STC Card

My point: people are misled by the social network environment and so they make poor decisions. We already know that men will do almost anything if asked to by an attractive woman:

The story also revealed another sad truth, a reflection on human nature. Men will do anything for an attractive woman, without even bothering to check whether she’s real or not.

[From Digital Identity: Linked]

And we already know that woman will do anything for a handsome non-existent soldier. Absent a working identity infrastructure, we really shouldn’t let people meander along under the impression that social media identities a real. Which, by the way, did make me wonder about the wisdom of publicising the NATO story. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to to pretend to go along with the “Chinese spies” and feed them misinformation rather than let them know that you had blown their cover. Haven’t these NATO guys ever read “The Zimmerman Telegram“? I thought this was high up on the reading list for anyone entering a career in a security-related profession. It would be have been infinite to friend the American brass with a convincing bogus Ahmadinejad and then start posting stuff about shipping centrifuges to Tibet and such like.

These are personal opinions and should not be misunderstood as representing the opinions of
Consult Hyperion or any of its clients or suppliers


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