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Facebook Phishing, Or 'With Friends Like These...'

I should probably spend less time on Facebook than I do. Perhaps the latest outbreak of phishing scams will be enough to curtail my mindless grazing.

If you're on Facebook you've probably gotten an inscrutable message from a friend recently that read something like "visit" or perhaps was just a URL. If this was a friend who didn't ever write you, you were confused. Why were they suddenly writing with such an inscrutable message? Similarly, if they were the sort of person who wrote long, involved messages, you wondered why they were suddenly getting all cryptic on you.

In reality, they'd been somehow duped into opening up their Facebook account to scammers, who were busy sending messages to all of their friends in the hopes of spreading their evil scheme.

Scammers count on us being trusting or clueless. Not all of us, of course, just a few, enough for them to get their foot in the door.

I wonder if you're more likely to fall victim to this stuff if you load up your Facebook page with all sorts of apps. Mine is blessedly app free. I don't know what kind of novel I would be or what kind of element. I don't know which Greek philosopher or which newspaper.

I would like to come up with some of my own "Which are you?" apps. Which tooth? "You are an incisor." Which venereal disease? "You are secondary syphilis." Which drum stick? "You are a Regal Tip 5B hickory." Which post-"Bosom Buddies" Peter Scolari vehicle?" You are "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show."

The problem with Facebook -- and I write as someone who loves it -- is that it's an incredible time-suck. It's nice keeping up with friends and acquaintances, but after a marathon session where I've checked out various status updates, looked at wall postings and perused new profile pictures and YouTube links, I often feel like that time might have been better spent doing something rather than thinking about what other people did.

Maybe the phishers and scammers are a blessing in disguise, forcing us away from our keyboards. Thoughts?

By John Kelly  |  May 26, 2009; 9:45 AM ET
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While Peter Scolari did peak early in "Bosom Buddies," I always thought Holland Taylor stole the show. If I were to pick the post-Bosom vehicle, it would have to be "The Bob Newhart Show." I'm fairly application-free too, so I've no "russkie" e-mails to worry about. Thanks for the warning, though.

Posted by: mfromalexva | May 26, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

If you must Facebook (I do so because it's where many of my long-distance friends update their lives - it's how we keep up with each other), start using Firefox and then add the Greasemonkey Facebook Purity script to your add-ons.

It hides all of those stupid quizzes from your newsfeed. And then block applications. Anything you have no idea what it is or where it came from, just block it. My friends have gotten used to the idea.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | May 26, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Chas, will do.

My view is that too many people have too many friends. How can you keep up with so many that you don't really know? It opens up potentially bad connections.

I have a wonderful time on Facebook. I sometimes have great discussions about deep subjects with new people and I've even become real friends with people I haven't met - but I still only have 40 friends and most of them are because they live on other continents and want to stay in touch with them.

So many problems come from "quantity not quality."

Posted by: cmecyclist | May 26, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

According to IMDB, Peter Scolari's first movie was a porno where he is credited as "Barney Tramble".

Posted by: jimward21 | May 26, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Do Rob and Brian know what you are up to? (insert LOL here)


Posted by: DLDx | May 27, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

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