David F. Carr
Attack Of The Rude Facebook Shoes
Another question to ponder: why politicians? More often than not, the people in my Facebook network who go shoe crazy are local politicians or political operatives. Partly, this is probably a factor of me having too many politicos in my network. I would guess that it also reflects the emphasis many of them are putting on social media as a low-cost way of connecting and networking with voters. In the process, they might be a little too eager to connect with people and applications in bad neighborhoods, or click on the wrong links. This app wants permission to post to my feed? Sure, why not, if it will help me get more people to my campaign page. Then they wonder why they're suddenly getting a rush of messages asking, "Why are you spamming me?"
My wife said she saw a version of the sex-and-shoes ad pop up in the feed from our congressman, although it was gone within minutes--meaning, I presume, that either an alert staffer saw it and deleted it right away or someone flagged it as an offensive image, causing Facebook to deep-six it. The one I was tagged in by the city commission candidate's account also disappeared within minutes, and maybe that means he had enough on the ball to delete it before it embarrassed him further. Still, it seems to keep happening, and I'm pretty sure this is not the kind of attention he is looking to get on social media.
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Rather than unfriend him, I'd like to help him figure out how to cure this affliction. The problem with giving advice is that social media spam can have any one of several causes:
-- The account password has been compromised and some other person or bot is logging in to send out this spam. I think this was the case with yet another politico in my circle who said she was locked out of her own account--and having a fun time trying to get support from Facebook--at the time she seemed to be afflicted with this shoe fetish.
-- The account holder has authorized an untrustworthy Facebook app, which now has permission to post to that person's feed.
I generally tell people to change their passwords and run a full anti-virus, anti-spyware scan on their PCs. That's a good start. I also recommend looking at the Facebook help pages for My account is hacked, My friend’s account is hacked, and My friend’s account is sending spammy links or creating spammy events and pages.
The advice Facebook provides is good, but I'm not sure it acknowledges the role that apps riding on top of the Facebook platform play as carriers. I'd recommend a thorough housecleaning of the apps attached to your account. How many of them come from a source that you absolutely, positively know to be trustworthy? How many can you delete right now and never miss?
Don't let a bad app walk all over you.
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David F. Carr is Editor of InformationWeek Education, covering online education and the technological transformation under way in universities and school systems.