Bryan Ruby

Thoughts, Words, and Deeds


As Facebook Removes Fake Accounts, Spam Industry Charges More

NBC News recently posted an interesting article where the author notes that the spam industry follows the same Law of Supply and Demand as any capitalist-loving business does. As social networks crack down on fake accounts and fake news, the spam industry is able to charge their customers more to establish such inauthentic accounts.

Facebook shut down as many as 30,000 fake accounts in the past week — but that's unlikely to hurt the multi-million-dollar spam industry.

In fact, since Facebook's post-election housecleaning, it's become even more lucrative for spammers to pump out "inauthentic accounts." The asking price on the black market for 1,000 fake accounts used to be $20, but security changes by the social network giant only succeeded in driving up prices.

"If you go to the underground markets where they sell fake Facebook accounts, you can buy 1,000 of these for $300 to $400," Damon McCoy, a New York University computer science professor specializing in cybercrime, told NBC News.

Fighting inauthentic accounts and inauthentic activity is not new to social networks. In recent years, Facebook has put a lot of effort into reducing such activities by closing accounts responsible for fake likes and fake news. Last week, Shabnam Shaik, Facebook's Security Technical Program Manager, acknowledged  the recent efforts of his security team to fight the spread of misinformation on their social network.

Coerced into Social Networking Sites

Julia Angwin of the Wall Street Journal recently wrote that she wanted to remake herself into a new least into a new person as seen by Google.  When Ms Angwin searched on Google using her own name she continued to see an old article written by her on top of the search results page .  Although the link to the old article was popular, she didn't feel the article was her best work nor that it reflected who she was today.  She then starts on an adventure into search engine optimization (SEO) as she tries to get what she tries to get the search engine to list instead the artides and Internet sites she would want people to see on top of the search results page.

Personally, I don't have any issue with search engines determining which of my work, sites, and references of me float to the top of the results page.  If a search engine decides to use my name as reference to Internet pages that best reflect who I am....hooray for me. If a search engine points to something truthful about me in an embarrassing way, that is fine too because it will serve as a reminder to me just how much I have learned and evolved since that page was posted. 

What I do have a problem with is when Internet surfers are pointed to another Bryan Ruby that isn't me.  I do not like it when people are searching for me on the Internet and find another me that isn't me.  I'm sure there are others that feel the same way as I do. 

Where does collaboration begin?

Even for The Register, not a very long article but it does ask some important questions.  The article, Welcome to the world of collaboration by stealth, suggests via questions that collaboration is bigger than the IT department.

Because it involves software, probably the IT department's. But is IT equipped for the task? And does it want the responsibility? Collaboration is a human process, in essence, so surely the buck stops somewhere else - even if IT provides a number of enabling tools.

The article then discusses that collaboration tools may be best implemented "by a few people at a time".  In other words, perhaps the first time social publishing systems are introduced in your organization, it may be best not to implement it through traditional enterprise software.  The article even suggests that Facebook would be a good first collaboration tool. I personally wouldn't go that far (or rather short sighted) with Facebook, however.

Tools such as Drupal, Elgg, or Alfresco are good tools to introduce the the troops to collaboration applications.  You can easily have your workers collaborating though IT without having go full force on an enterprise solution to collaboration.  The topic of CMS and collaboration in the enterprise is something we'll be spending a lot of time on in the coming months.

Introducing Facebook to the Boss

I am a loyal reader of Andrew McAfee's articles which he posts on his Harvard Business School blog, The Impact of IT on Business and their Leaders.  Andrew McAfee is an associate professor at Harvard and spends a great deal of time on his blog discussing and defining Enterprise 2.0.

While we all talk a lot about about Web 2.0, Collaboration 2.0, and Enterprise 2.0, there is actually not enough formal research on the subject as many in the business and academic world would like.  The lack of concrete research and facts on Enterprise 2.0 can cause managers to be a little concerned that they're bringing toys and not business tools to their worker's computer desktops.  There is enough distraction in the workplace and managers question why they would want to bring Facebook to the office?

Although a CIO, CEO, or office manager may understand what a blog and wiki does, they are not always sure what the real benefits of such applications are to their organization.  If your boss asked you why a company should formally support Web 2.0 applications, how would you answer the question?