If you’re a Twitter user, chances are fairly good you’ve seen at least one message in the past month (or maybe lots more) inviting you join someone’s “Mafia family.”
What are these strange and unwanted messages? According to Kern Kelly, who I visited with this evening following the ACTEM 09 banquet, some messages like this begin when people authorize “an application” or other website / web service to have access to a Facebook or Twitter account. When you grant that access, in the case of Facebook, generally you provide the requesting website with access to not only ALL your personal information shared on Facebook but also the personal information of all your identified “friends.” In September 2007, I wrote the post “Beware of Quechup Spam Scam,” which focused on a similar issue when a website asked for access to webmail contacts via Yahoo Mail, GMail, etc.
BE VERY WARY of requests like these to grant access to your personal accounts, profile information, and friends’ information! Now that so many people are using sites like Facebook, and applications are proliferating with amazing speed (Farmville, as an example, has over 59 million “monthly active users”) this issue is becoming even more important. Just as family members, children, co-workers and others in our communities need to be saavy to the risks of phishing emails, we all need to be saavy to the danger of granting account access. We may be inviting our contacts and friends to receive spam messages, sent from us and our own accounts. No one needs more spam!
In addition to avoiding situations where you unknowingly send spam to friends and contacts, it’s also wise to be wary of sharing account information because you may not want your social media “lifestream” to by coopted or hijacked by a commercial web application or service.* Whether you have thousands of followers / friends or a few, a lot of companies would LOVE for you to help them advertise their product or service by granting them permission to USE and POST TO your Facebook or Twitter accounts. Don’t fall for this ploy.
This evening, thanks to a comment related to geocaching by John Weidner, I learned about the social geo-sharing website Gowalla. Similar in some ways to geocaching and geocaching.com, Gowalla is an online game powered by an iPhone application that encourages player participants to “go out,” discover and share.
In addition to defining new places for other Gowalla users to visit and get “stamped” in their virtual passport, the program also lets users take and create “tours” of multiple stops related to a theme or location.
This is a tour of the Texas capitol, with six different recommended stops. Gowalla’s developers are based in Austin, so that likely accounts for the larger number Austin-area entries and “trips” at this point.
The application looks fun and engaging, but here’s the personal information / potential lifestream cooptation danger: After signing up the website and iPhone application prompts users to grant its owners access to your Twitter and Facebook accounts. At this point, as information-saavy learners, we should all see a warning flag.
I have not received any spam Twitter direct messages or email from the Gowalla site owners or from its users, but the potential exists WHENEVER we share our account access that site/application owners might use our information in undesirable ways. At a minimum, we should recognize and be wary of applications like these posting updates to our accounts, because each posted message is a free advertisement for that website or service. This method/technique is actually a very saavy use of social media technologies, and I’m not discouraging anyone from checking out Gowalla and giving it a try. I’m going to. I’m not, however, granting the site access to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, and I think its advisable that everyone be wary before granting “access permissions” like this.
* Lifestreamblog.com defines “lifestream” as:
…a chronological aggregated view of your life activities both online and offline. It is only limited by the content and sources that you use to define it.
Friendfeed is a lifestream service I use and like. A lifestream plugin for WordPress is available, which has the advantage of saving your lifestream data locally (on your webserver) so you can archive and utilize that information even if a service like Friendfeed goes away at some point.
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On this day..
- Cultural Literacy in an Era of Information Overabundance - 2015
- How to Share Videos from a School iPad Cart - 2013
- Launching Learning with Kevin Honeycutt: K12Online12 Begins! - 2012
- Welcome to the golden age of writing and publishing - 2010
- MacBook Air Rev finally coming Oct 20th? - 2010
- Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera: Awesome! - 2009
- Geocaching In and Out of the Classroom by Beth Goodwin - 2009
- iTunes Installation Guide and Implications of the 4th Screen - 2008
- Balancing freedom for creativity and a need for reasonable uniformity - 2007
- A Vision of Students Today - 2007