Fraudsters in Facebook

Just as Facebook has served many users as a good form of communication amongst friends in social networks, it has also served the likes of thieves and fraudsters. According to BBC’s consumer rights TV programme, Watchdog, thieves and fraudsters are able to use information put on personal profiles by other users and open online bank accounts and apply for credit cards successfully.

When it did an experiment of sending out invitations to other users by a fictitious user, many responded even though they had no clue of who the person was! Not only that, they openly shared their personal information in their profiles.

Perhaps, the anonymity of it all, and the lack of face-to-face contact lead to a false sense of security, like hey, we are all friends here and you are a friend of a friend so you must be okay – cool! Also, many unwittingly scrawl personal messages on the walls of other users, forgetting that whatever is written on the wall is plain for all to see.

All this makes it easier for identity theft to take place, and with Facebook’s decision to list its members’ profiles publicly on search engines, it looks like online fraud is likely to increase, unless users exercise due precaution and common sense.

Facebook’s (face)value

In two blog posts made last week, I wrote about the popularity of Facebook and how its creator Mark Zuckerberg turned down a good offer by Yahoo last year. Now, we know why…Mr Zuckerberg was just waiting for the next big offer! And it came a last week from none other than IT giant company Microsoft!

Cyberspace has been busy screaming ‘Microsoft buys into Facebook’ since the announcement was made last Wednesday. Microsoft paid a whopping amount of US$240 million for just 1.6% stakein Facebook, putting the value of Facebook at a staggering US$15 billion! No wonder Mark Zuckerberg can’t stop smiling!

Microsoft’s purchase is an endorsement of the growing popularity of Facebook, and how true, with 200, 000 signing up as members each day, Facebook looks set to be the most popular social networking site around!

Facebook, Social Networking and the Duo Core Generation

With so much said and done about social networking sites, there’s bound to be uses and abuses of them.

Indeed, the use of social networking in the workplace is regarded as being controversial, with many having their say and questions about it. You can read some of the views at: Kit Kai’s Tech Blog; Web 2.0 and its impact on 21st Century; Scaling the Social Web, and more.

Young people tend to use social networking sites to keep in touch with their friends and enlarge their social circles. Some use it as a way to suss out potential mates, check out the competition, entertain their friends, and themselves, etc.

While there’s nothing wrong with that, what’s making employers and companies fret is that many of the employees are spending too much time working on their Facebook profiles, checking out how many people have invited them to be friends, or throwing sheep at each other!

According to a Straits Times article entitled “We’re (net)working”, $390 million is lost a day due to loss of productivity caused by cyber-loafing. You say network, I say notwork? While employees may be tapping away at their keyboards, they may not be engaging in any productive office work. They say that employees are getting distracted by MSN messages and pop-ups, etc.

This has actually led to some companies banning and blocking the use of such social networking sites.

Not only are companies concerned about the loss of productivity, they are also concerned that certain company trade secrets and practices may be knowingly or unknowingly revealed to outsiders. This is pretty much like the concern with employees blogging about work.

But is this the way to go? Perhaps companies need to know that they are dealing with a new breed of digital natives and going online to blog and network is part and parcel of their lives. And I have a new term for the new generation of digital natives. It’s “Duo Core generation” with duo core brains which seem to allow digital natives to process separate tasks independently.

Perhaps instead of trying to beat them, some companies have tried to join them. One example is IBM.  IBM warms to social networking and has started using IBM’s Lotus Connections which allows the whole company to engage and network. IBM staff write blogs and keep wikis and make use of social networking software to keep in the loop, thus creating a sense of one giant community.

Some other uses for Web 2.0 technologies in the workplace could be corporate wikis where the collective information and intelligence of staff could be stored and referenced, as well as company blogs that could clue newcomers in on company FAQs and the company culture and the like. Project blogs and wikis could be another collaborative space for working on team projects. It depends on the creativity of the company as well. Perhaps staff could suggest more ways that companies could use such Web 2.0 technologies more effectively in the workplace.

If you wish to read up on more ideas and/or contribute your ideas, there’s a useful site that let’s you do just that: Of course, you care also most welcome to comment on Blogscapes!

Blog scholarship nominee: Kevin Lim

In my blog post last week, I wrote about the Singaporean blogger who’s in the running for a blog scholarship.

It was a nice surprise that Kevin actually dropped by and added the following comment:

Kevin  |  19, October, 2007 at 4:32 am

Thanks for the support! I didn’t think it’d be that big a deal, but I do feel honored to be listed among the 20 college bloggers. ;)

Thanks for coming by Blogscapes, Kevin! We wish you all the best!

This is yet another example of the power of new media! It’s able to carry what you say across to a real audience.

Facebook – facing up to Facebook

I’d been resisting it – received invitations from people I didn’t really know or perhaps could not remember – invitations to become their friend in Facebook. I had resisted it, and simply deleted the email messages.

But I finally succumbed. And all in the name of education and research! After all, with so much written and said about the new social networking site, how could I, as a self-respecting educator, much less one who’s exploring new media, not know Facebook? I mean, it only has 34 million users across the globe (according to Wikipedia), with the number rising everyday. Anyway, like I’ve said, it’s all in the name of research.

So, what is Facebook and how did it start? It”s all very much Web 2.0, with the creator wanting to have something to help people communicate and keep in touch and keep up with each others’ lives. If you look at the log in page, it looks innocently simple and inviting. It says, “Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you.” It goes on to add

Everyone can use Facebook —

And how true, with reports showing that Facebook is now being used not just by the young digital natives, but by many young-at-heart digital immigrants too.

According to Wikipedia’s info on Facebook and its history, its famous creator, Mark Zuckerberg, launched it in Feb 2004 for Harvard students, but its use quickly spread and now it seems, everyone’s on Facebook.

The site is so successful that Yahoo made a bid for it to no avail. Recently, there was talk that Microsoft also made a bid for it, to no avail. Looks like either Mark Zuckerberg is so naively idealistic and passionate about his site, so much so that he quit Harvard to run it, or he’s one astute technoprenuer holding out for the best bid to make him one of the youngest billionaires around.

In any case, my initial use of Facebook was pretty ho-hum. So I created my profile and invited some friends to join in. Some did and some didn’t (“Why? Email not good enough?” asked one of them.) But over the days, I’ve discovered how convenient it really is to keep in touch! Due to the interactive and interconnected nature of Facebook, I’ve been able to keep in touch with old friends and colleagues who had kept in touch with others, and so the network grows.

It’s a pretty cool way to keep up with your friends. I say friends, as frankly, all that adding of people just to up your social circle numbers is just sad. It’s not the quantity but the quality that really matters.

But I’ve heard of how people have used Facebook in pretty interesting ways – to check up on potential boyfriends/girlfriends/bosses/exployees/room mates, etc. Which also highlights an important consideration. Be careful of what you post online. More importantly, be careful of what others post about you online – like what they scrawl on your Facebook walls, and all. But then again, can you really control what they say and write?

Blog scholarship: Singaporean blogger Kevin Lim in the running

The blog comes of age!  There’s now a blog scholarship offered by The Daniel Kovach Scholarship Foundation for college students in the US. Talk about giving legitimiacy to the blog, and recognising its power as a powerful medium of communication and influence!

This is the first ever blog scholarship and the winner stands to get a US$5, 000  scholarship annually.  One of the requirements for nominations is that the “blog must contain unique and interesting information about [the blogger] and/or things [the blogger] is passionate about.”

And in the group of 20 selected to be in the running for the scholarship is Singaporean blogger, Mr Kevin Lim, a PhD student taking communications at the State University of New York in Buffalo.

Kevin Lim has been blogging since 2004 and has covered numerous topics in his blog, ranging from “intellectual property rights to social phenomena in cyberspace”.

I managed to find his blog (I say ‘find’ as surprisingly, the newspaper article that featured Kevin didn’t list it!) and you can read more about Kevin and his potentially-award-winning blog at theory. isthereason.

The winner will be chosen by a public balloting system on the college website.  A quick check on the site shows that Kevin is not in the top running currently, but it’s early days yet, with voting closing in the first week of November. Another quick check online shows that some people out there are already actively canvassing support for Kevin!

Here’s wishing Kevin all the very best as one of the contenders for the world’s first ever blog scholarship! In fact, his very nomination has helped to place Singapore on the global blogmap.

Gaming as lifeskills for the future

There’s no doubt that gaming has captured the hearts and imagination not only of  children, but adults as well.  

In an interesting article entitled Gaming? It’s no child’s play, we are told the virtues of gaming. Very much like what Marc Prensky (the guy who popularised the terms digital natives and digital immigrants) has said in his book, “Don’t bother me, Ma. I’m learning”, gaming has come a long way in shedding its image of schoolboys hanging around LAN clubs and playing games, to becoming an activity that is seen to have educational and lifeskills training!

There are currently an estimated 100 million gamers worldwide, according to Mr Eric Lesser, associate partner, IBM Institute for Business Value. And according to two studies conducted by IBM, MIT, Stanford University and Seriosity (a software start-up), “online games can help tomorrow’s workers become better corporate leaders as the workspace becomes more distributed, collaborative and virtual in nature.”

It seems that playing massive multi-player online role playing games can actually help you to pick up interactive and communication as well as leadership skills as you interact, collaborate and compete with thousands of other gamers, on a global basis!

And with things being played out in real time, players need to make snap decisions and adapt to the ever changing environment. And such skills honed in the virtual game worlds can have real benefits and it’s suggested that employers of the future look out for people who have played games as they have picked up those requisite skills. it’s no longer taboo to put gaming or playing games as one of your interests in your resume!

But of course, the consequences of  ‘game over’ in the virtual and real worlds have vastly different consequences and that’s something players need to be made aware of.  “Leaders in the future will need to be able to tolerate and manage informed risk to be successful in an increasingly fast and complex environment,” said Mr Lesser. 

In another interesting article, Avatars without borders, we learn that the creator of Second Life and IBM have joined forces to enable people’s animated online personae, aka avatars to rmove freely from one virtual world to another.

Currently, avatars are stuck in the world they inhabit, so an avatar in Second Life has to stick around Second Life worlds. Given that people spend so much time and money customising their avatars, getting new wardrobes, hairstyles, gestures, etc, they don’t really want to repeating the processes in multiple virtual worlds. This creates an obstacle to the full potential of the online universe to allow for avatars to socialise, advertise, do business and make money. 

“We don’t think the future of virtual worlds is going to involve a lot of ‘siloed’ experiences competing against each other. The future is going to involve going from one world to another, ” says, Mr Yoon of Linden Lab. According to Gartner research firm, 80 per cent of the people using the Internet will have alter egos in virtual worlds by 2011. IBM also has its vision of a “3D Internet” that includes companies using virtual worlds for tasks such as recruiting, meetings and employee training. Hm..imagine your avatar going for an interview online in your future virtual company! Better start practising your online interview skills! And make sure your avatar can fly straight!

So, once again, the gaming and virtual worlds are having more and more impact on the real world we inhabit. It’s no wonder some are beginning to not know where to draw the lines.