Likes, Dislikes, And Phony Facebook Apps

There appears to be no end to the ingenuity of scammers, spammers, and computer tricksters.  After the tales of woe from the likes of Ethiopian bankers and Hong Kong divorcees get long in the tooth, the scammers try something different.  There’s nothing newsworthy about new computer schemes . . . unless they have an implicit social commentary message.

So it is with the news stories about a scam that tries to trick Facebook users into installing a “dislike” button to accompany the “like” button on their Facebook page.  If the hapless users do so, the scam puts some false application on their Facebook page that then sends out spam.

What’s interesting about this is that, in the abstract, virtual, touchy-feely world of Facebook “friends,” users would want to have a Facebook application to affirmatively indicate their “dislike” for something.  What’s next?  A rogue application that offers Facebook users the opportunity to refer to themselves in the first person?  A phony program that claims to allow Facebook users to send targeted, anonymous computer viruses to try to discourage further Facebook use by people, like their Mom or Aunt Sue, whom they really don’t want to “friend” but can’t turn down without experiencing massive pangs of guilt?  Facebook users may well have untapped reservoirs of rage, ready to be exploited by the next generation of creative scammers.

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Bed Bugs On Parade

The New York Daily News is reporting that one in 10 New Yorkers is suffering from bed bugs.  How bizarre — one in 10 New Yorkers, battling a pest that you tend to associate with medieval living conditions.

Bed bugs are small, bloodsucking insects of the Cimicidae family.  They congregate in areas where people live and bite people when they sleep.  In America, bed bugs were pretty much wiped out decades ago through liberal application of pesticides like DDT.  It is not clear what has led to the resurgence of bed bugs, although some researchers believe that bed bugs may have been brought back to America — unintentionally, of course — by travelers and immigrants.

It will be interesting to see how New York City addresses the bed bug problem.  Given the density of New York, it seems like a unit-by-unit approach to the problem is doomed to failure.  And given the great sensitivity to the environmental impact of pesticides, chemical solutions to the problem are bound to be disfavored.  At the same time, however, New York’s tourism and hospitality industry is going to suffer if the City is overrun with bed bugs and visitors to high-end hotels get bitten in their swanky rooms.  I predict that the jobs-producing tourism industry will win that battle and convince the City to take a broad and effective approach to the problem — even if pesticides are part of the response.