International Relationships Are Dead!
One of the amazing things about the Internet was how it allowed us to connect with amazing people around the world. This was one of the blessings of online dating also, and in fact Facebook as well. You could connect and make friends the world over.
Now fast forward to 2016 and the Internet is a dangerous place filled with fake people, haters, stalkers, pervs, terrorists, drug dealers, human traffickers, and of course scammers.
We all have effectively destroyed the environment that offered so much promise.
How did this happen?
It started with an attitude. A left leaning view that everyone is wonderful and that we can all live together in this globalized world in peace and harmony. This was simple insanity.
The world is full of scary people - criminals, terrorists, human traffickers, slavers, scammers and much worse.
Internet social media providers such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and others simply did not care about your safety. The believed that the more profiles (members) they had the better it was - this allowed them to display more ads and make more money. The bigger the better it was for their valuation.
The only exception was LinkedIn who have always done a good job of policing their space.
It really started with MySpace when the world discovered that MySpace was full of children (as young as 3 years old) having profiles on MySpace. What were those parents thinking? Was it any surprise that Pedophiles followed? The U.S. FTC went after them in a big way, imposed sanctions against them requiring that everything be reviewed and screened. Our own parent company helped MySpace resolve many of its problems by using our screening services when they got in trouble. This lead to the enactment of the COPPA law (Children's Online Privacy & Protection Act) in the U.S. and similar laws elsewhere to protect Children online: https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/documents/reports/implementing-childrens-online-privacy-protection-act-federal-trade-commission-report-congress/07coppa_report_to_congress.pdf
In fact, MySpace is under probabation (monitoring) for 20 years because of all this: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120508/17433418836/ftc-to-monitor-myspace-andor-empty-space-20-years.shtml
Unfortunately, the situation is more regulated now, but actually less safe today than it was all those years ago.
Today the world governments have mostly turned a blind eye towards scammers and allowed them to grow astronomically large. Some estimate that 30% of all Facebook Profiles are fake. Same for Twitter, same for Google+ This is an industry wide failure.
The notion that the community of users will police itself and report every fake is great if Facebook actually listens, but they don't. They don't because they have not trained their employees well enough to recognize fakes when they see them. They side with the fake or the scammer due to political correctness and apathy. In fact, if you report "too many" fakes you will be punished on Facebook as being a cyberbully.
The result is that if you are on Facebook you are substantially at risk. If you are on online dating, you are walking on the edge of disaster.
So what is the answer?
Ironically, the answer is very simple and it would take less than 90 days for all of social media to implement.
This is known as the "SCARS Plan":
1) With every profile, every post, every note, photo, etc. Use the log in IP Address of the person connected to display the COUNTRY and CITY a person is in when they post EVERY TIME. Scammers sometimes use proxy servers, but this will still show the inconsistency in their locations.
2) Do not allow a new profile to specify a location, extract it from the IP address automatically, and make it permanently displayed publicly in the profile. Do not allow it to be changed more than once a year. This means we will know the REAL location of the person in every profile.
3) Every profile must provide proof of identity within 180 days from the date of the creation of the profile. And when they are sent, validate the profile - or display the profile as "Identity Not Confirmed".
4) Make it much easier to verify the identity of people and businesses in social media. Many people use different names (nicknames) for their profiles, and companies use brands and DBAs all the time, Facebook and others must make it easier when verifying a page (regardless of the size of the business), same for profiles. This will not work for all countries, but where it does it will be a safer community and allow users to make decisions based upon it.
5) Use facial/image recognition to flag profiles that have profile photos used on other profiles - to help eliminate flakes and duplicate profiles. Use algorithms that periodically cycle through all profiles looking for this duplication. On all new profile photo uploads do a duplicate check.
6) Provide a much easier way to report scams and scammers online. Then carefully examine the profile for communications that show the scam behavior. This can be done using algorithms as the first line, then escalation if it fails. This will also help eliminate spam.
7) Work with the two largest scammer databases (SCARS & Scamalytics) to filter against profiles for scammer identification in all new and existing social media profiles.
If these things were done over 97% of fakes would disappear in a matter of 3 to 4 months. It would also inhibit the creation of new fake profiles which number in the tens of millions each year.
Unfortunately, the social media industry is not embracing these types of changes and continue to allow anyone to create profiles, relying on us to report them and for us to hope they will listen to us.
But in the end, you simply cannot trust anyone online unless you physically know them, or have known them online over a very extended period of time. International friends are a fiction that few of us can afford any more.
This is tragic in that this was the real promise of social media, but the reality has become a nightmare due to the failure of the social media companies to employ proper common sense safeguards.
Perhaps you can share this post by email or Facebook and maybe something will happen?
Encourage them to talk with SCARS (Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams) at the upcoming iDate event in January and implement the SCARS Plan now!
Send to Jamil Walker, Corporate Communications Manager, Facebook, 650-785-5818; [email protected] AND Andrea Saul, Policy Communications Manager, Facebook 650-822-4089; [email protected] Who knows maybe they will listen if they get enough emails? You can just copy and past this post for them.
Tell Facebook what YOU think about your safety in Facebook, and that the Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams (www.AgainstRomanceScams.org) has a plan to keep you safe!
Thank you for reading this!
Have a Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah! and hopefully a Scammer Free New Year!