Days after Haiti's catastrophic earthquake this January, "fan pages" purporting to aid fundraising for emergency relief popped up all over Facebook. The pages said they would donate $1 for each person who joined, a seemingly ingenious harnessing of Facebook activism to altruistic ends. The problem? The pages were fakes, and Facebook acted quickly to shut down the pages and quash another rumor that Facebook would also donate a dollar for status updates that mentioned Haiti relief efforts.
Bob Sullivan at MSNBC's Red Tape Chronicles blog summed up the danger of the fake fan pages, saying that while simply signing up for the pages may seem safe enough,
a spammer or hacker could harness a large fan group to commit other scams. Fan page administrators are able to contact each fan through status updates, providing a perfect platform for phishing or virus attacks.
So much for safety in numbers.
And then this weekend, only hours after one of the strongest earthquakes in recorded history hit Chile, phishers and spammers began taking advantage of the chaos and lack of information coming out of the region by using the twitter hashtag #hitsunami to spread viruses and malware. Some tweets that seemed to be about the earthquake-generated tsunami headed for Hawaii reportedly hid malicious links, and users who clicked through were in danger of downloading viruses or spyware. The restricted character count of status updates and tweets makes it much easier to hide viral links in the characteristic shortened urls and harder to tell what's a breaking story and what's an identity-stealing scam. While social media networks have definitely helped to get the word out about legitimate and even innovative fundraising efforts over the past couple of months - such as donating via text message - it seems as though each time the sites wise up to these threats, a new wave of scams outpaces their best efforts.
The surprising results come from a new GLAAD survey.
- The survey found that 18- to 34-year-old non-LGBTQ Americans reported feeling less comfortable around LGBTQ people in a variety of hypothetical situations.
- The attitudes of older non-LGBTQ Americans have remained basically constant over the past few years.
- Overall, about 80 percent of Americans support equal rights for LGBTQ people.
Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
- Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
- This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
- The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
The more we learn about the microbiome, the more the pieces are fitting together.
- A new study from the University of Central Florida makes the case for the emerging connection of autism and the human microbiome.
- High levels of Propionic Acid (PPA), used in processed foods to extend shelf life, reduces neuronal development in fetal brains.
- While more research is needed, this is another step in fully understanding the consequences of poor nutrition.
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