Facebook Fobbles
by S Anne Stevens Jan 2014 all rights reserved

Way back when, against every bone in my body, I joined MySpace. My daughter had moved to Germany with her Army high school sweetheart husband, and back then, phone calls could be very expensive, let alone international calls. MySpace allowed us to 'talk' so she didn't feel too disjointed and keep up with each other's news.

By the time MySpace evolved to Facebook, blogging was a way of life. We had discovered we could easily keep 6 children, 10 grandchildren and 34 friends updated with our progress when we were in England and Scotland in one fell swoop. After that, my husband created his own Facebook account. Facebooking at right angles from each other in the office became both a morning wakeup and evening pre-bedtime activity. David now uses Facebook instead of our useless newspaper, having arranged to have important news posted to his timeline; another advantage of Facebook.

Fast forward a few years. I still find Facebook an incredibly easy way to show 234 people our latest idiosyncrasy, if they are interested. It also allows me to scream and clear the air about some issue I find irritating, and more often than not, there are many who share the same frustration, and that actually makes me feel better. Maybe I am not crazy after all?

Then there are some people who would not Facebook if their lives depended on it. Their identity could be stolen, or worse!!! I am thinking, If you put your social, mother's maiden name, address or any other revealing information on Facebook, well, what can I say? And yes, if you are an insane serial killer out to get me, you can probably really find my address, easily on the web. Blame it on the day and age. How some ever, I still feel the value of keeping in touch with beloved friends across the nation with one post outweighs the fears of personal invasion. To a point.

There are some settings on Facebook that can make your privacy issues, well, a challenge. Add to that fact that Facebook keeps changing settings and functions not readily noticeable, and you can get fairly confused, fairly quickly.

You have the option of keeping your timeline, file, blog, account, available to the public, to friends, to friends of friends and they even allow you to divide your friends down to a few subcategories, close, acquaintance, and even set up your own, which sets my imagination into a fun spin thinking about my younger days. "Dated once" or "Keep on the back burner." I do wonder why they include a category called Restricted. I am not sure I want to be friends with anyone I would consider restricted. Maybe it has to do with being politically correct?

When I first signed up, my thoughts were that I could reunite with some old friends and set my privacy fairly loose. It did not take me long, or very many weird friend invites, to change my setting to Friends of Friends. Now, I am in contact with everyone I wanted to find, except for one girlfriend and Kirk Stendall. I still want to tell him that his date rape affected me for many, many years, and I still type his name in the top search bar every so often.

There is always a great deal of scuttlebutt, bunk and rumors floating about what setting does what, if you post this declaration on your wall Facebook can't publish your name without your permission, yadda, yadda. I spent the better part of fifteen years trying to teach people where spam comes from to no avail. As people are, they pass something along blindly without checking it, and after the years, you start to simply push the delete button.

The sensation that Big Brother is alive and well and living in Facebook continually rears its ugly head. I rarely have to tag my family in photos, Facebook does it automatically, and correctly. Ads on the right side of the screen suspicious echo something I recently researched elsewhere on the web. While we logically know it is the action of computers opposed to evil, manipulative people hovering their mice over our names, as one friend said, it feels insidious.

I wake up one morning to an insane level of email from Facebook friends who either want to know why I had asked them to be my friend again, did I lose my account, or telling me there is someone impersonating me. A half a day later, I have managed to get all the friends who made friends with this other Anne to unfriend them, but one question looms long in the darkness; the why of it.

Three short months later, here we go again. However this time, my posting "Don't accept that new invitation" posting was seen one moment before a friend was wiring a few thousand to a person she believed to be my friend. The scam is at long last revealed.

Anne, who has been your trusted friend for years, tells you how she was introduced to a new governmental program to supplement recent retirees. Or whatever. She dutifully sent in her two thousand dollar fee and lo and behold, received a check for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars! She was able to pay off all her bills, put some money aside and buy some things she had always wanted. This program is so great she had to tell you about it and assure you, it is real. "I did it, so can you, and I know you can use the money!"

So what happened? I was not hacked, and it was not personal. They were after my friends, not me. Despite my settings now at Friends, the two main pictures on my timeline are visible to anyone, period. Search for Robin Alexander, John Smith, or Betty Williams. Check it out.

My friends who accepted the new invite did not look and see if we were still friends, they simply accepted something had happened and went about their day. No harm done, except to that one lady who almost lost more than she could afford. No one seemed to notice that the new Anne's timeline had nothing on it besides those two pictures.

What was more interesting, and irritating, is how long it took Facebook to remove this fake. Someone else posted something considered inappropriate, the item was removed within an hour and their account suspended for a day. Yet in this case, a much more dangerous situation, Facebook took their time.

The fake had cleverly blocked me, so I had my husband accepted the invite. Stupid move on his part to have asked my hubby to begin with! This way, I was able to watch the fake. I made a small change in my name and changed my picture, the fake mimicked my moves. During the day, more friends accepted their invite, I sent a note telling them what had happened, what to do now. Even then, it took Facebook over three days, and literally a hundred complaints, to remove that fake. Plenty of time for them to have hooked another of my more naive or wishful friends.

Bottom line?
Think. Find out. Be practical.
Don't blindly accept something important is true.
If it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true.
If you think you have been hacked, call someone you know and have them change your password from their computer.
If you are going to use Facebook, be aware, be smart, be safe. It is an excellent tool for us, and for the bad guys.

Return to Inside Anne
Return to Packrat Main Page