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Social Media Spying

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Saturday, 05 December 2009

Everyone Follows Social Media … Everyone!



“One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.” – Raul, Die Another Day (MGM – 2002)

Our kids do nearly everything on their smartphones or netbooks.

Because we’re slightly retarded, they use email for us. 

For everyone else -- friends, schoolmates, relationships -- they max out all of the capabilities, features and benefits of today’s Web 2.0 social media.

They simply look at us and repeat Graves’s words, “I have to live my dreams.”

They aren’t alone!

A recent article in the WS Jnl noted that gazillions of people have chosen to communicate faster (IMing), do it more quickly (texting), do it in a more focused/collaborative manner (wikis, SharePoint, etc.), do it every time they turn around (Twitter).

And they are able to do it to almost instantly while reaching a wider audience (Facebook, LinkedIn, other social networking sites). 

They can tailor their reach with specific content (Flickr, YouTube) and just communicate in the way they want to communicate.

Whether it’s on their smartphone or netbook, they are connected with someone…anyone.



Increasingly Connected – All of our new devices, communications circuits and Web outlets may have made our life better; but for the most part, they have made us compulsive about sharing everything we are doing.  There is less and less free time or down time.  Source -- IDC


 Always Connected

According to Nielsen Company:

-          276.9 million people in the US, EU, Australia, Brazil used email in August

-          Year-to-year, that was an increase of 21 percent

-          301.5 million people in the same areas were on social networking sites

-          Year-to-year increase was 31 percent

It’s no wonder the Journal article forecast that email was going to disappear and those fantastic, fun, free social networking sites were going to revolutionize and speed the way we communicate with one another.

Top 20 US Social Networking Sites


                                    Source:  comScore Media Metrix

So Many Opportunities – The online world has provided us with increasing opportunities to tell and show more and more about ourselves all, in the name of community.  Each bit of information adds to our online life story.  Source -- comScore


The Web is so great people put everything there … All of their personal and professional information.  All of their trip, visit, vacation, going somewhere/doing something notes. 

They put up their photos – professional, family/friends, personal (sometimes too personal) – to share with certain folks and people who are just passing by. 

The current hot thing to follow and be followed is Twitter.



Now you may think that’s a huge kids' hangout.  After all, it’s only 140 characters and lots of parents think that’s about the attention span of their kids.

Not Just for Kids

But a youngster--a young (obviously very smart) intern--wrote a market white paper for a brokerage firm saying that young folks couldn’t be bothered with Twitter.  There are a lot of other really cool locations they go to for exchanging information, ideas, you name it.

That blew the old fogies away (30-45-year-olds). 

They had to redo all their reports and forecasts.

Turns out that the Twitter stats reinforce the kids position.


Wide Demographics – The ability to communicate quick ideas, thoughts and information has struck a cord with young and old alike.  The question sometimes is raised as to how many people are really that interested in where you are, where you’re going, what you’re doing.  Source – Neilson Co.


Darn … we had just learned to count to 140 too!!!

Anyone with an ounce of common sense is naturally worried about his or her Internet privacy.  

And the sites you use regularly, you trust…implicitly!

Well yes, you had to give the sites a little information so you could take advantage of all of that communications exchange stuff.  

But heck, look at all the freedom you get in return!

And hey…you’ve got all the knowledge you need to protect yourself because according to Consumer Reports:

-          61 percent of the people surveyed were confident that what they did online wasn’t shared

-          57 percent were certain companies had to say they were collecting data and what they were going to do with  it

-          48 percent knew that if you were going to use their information, you had to get their consent

-          43 percent believed you had to get a court order to monitor online activities



Belief vs. Reality – Very few people bother to read the end-user agreements for the sites they sign up for and use.  As a result, most of their impressions of their rights are usually wrong.  Source – Consumer Reports


As James Bond said, “Time to face gravity.”

Naturally, all of those “gotta’ keep in touch folks” didn’t read the EULA (end-user license agreement) when they signed up for their free microblog or social site service. 

Read them and suddenly you realize they can:

-          gather all the information they want about you

-          use that stuff at their discretion

-          sell your information

-          delete your files

Look at the list and you want to repeat Q’s question, “Must you touch everything?”

Don’t stare like that at the site owners.   They aren’t alone…not by a long shot!

Want to know something about … someone?   Anyone?

Go to the Web…

Do the equivalent of a bar hop or pub crawl.

If you’re good, you’ll find out everything you ever wanted to know…and more.

If you’re great at it, you’ve found yourself a new career!

Everyone is Looking

Companies like PallTech have databases of just about every American name, address, date of birth, social security number. 

And there are similar organizations in other countries that collect these little kernels of information for collection agencies, banks, corporate HR departments, and “others.”

There are two other groups very interested in what goes on with your tweets, site visits, you name it – the good guys…and the bad guys!

In-Q-Tel, the CIA investment group, just dropped a bundle into a quiet little company called Visible Technologies. 



Everyone in the intelligence community (around the globe) is getting really good with “open source intelligence.” 

These people crawl over a half-million web sites a day scraping millions of posts and conversations on blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Amazon, you name it. 

They sorta’ follow Falco’s words, “We're here in case things escalate, not to make sure they do.”

Of course, as a matter of policy government agencies never touches closed social sites like Facebook! 

You probably agree with Graves, “Time to draw the line.”

Silly boy, girl!!!

Those are the good guys!

Growing H*Commerce

The members of the new H*Commerce crowd are very, very sophisticated.  They have the best hardware/software experts around the globe that money can buy!

They follow the Tweets…the Facebook notations…the MySpace data…the LinkedIn comments…little bits of your information from anywhere/everywhere, which they piece together and BAM!!!!



Needle in a Haystack – It is surprising how much information about themselves people freely, even happily, post on the Web.  With very little work, good and bad guys can gather vital information in almost no time at all.  They can zero-in on your information instantly. 


Or to quote Bond, “I know the rules, and number one is "no deals'.”

As one official noted, supply and demand drives the market and there’s a huge demand in the shadow economy.

As you add social media sites/services, you develop what the techies call a larger digital footprint. Actually, that footprint is up in the cloud. 

Nothing too bad we suppose.  Except for these little items we snatched from the news:

-          Gawker Media tricked into featuring malicious Suzuki ads

-          Facebook password-reset spam is Bredolab botneck attack

-          UK newspaper Web site hacked; 500,000 job seekers affected

-          Gaping security hole in Times Warner cable routers

-          LoroBot ransomware encrypts files, demands $100 for decryption

O.K., we all share the blame for this.

We live in an age where microblogs and social sites are the way we keep in touch. 

At some point, you’ll have to check your sanity to see if 500 of your close personal friends…or a couple of dozen…or even your own mom!

As James said, “Well, the fun is about to come to a dead end.”

Maybe it’s time to get a date.

Take a trip to some exotic island with your special someone. 



Fight the Fight – Anyone can take reasonable steps to protect their information and minimize their digital footprint on the Web.  Most don’t, but you can and then you can really…relax!  Source -- MGM


Have a good cigar, because a good cigar is…a good cigar!

Trust us, the social networking sites will be there when you get back.  So will the good and bad guys!!!

And…you’ll live to die another day!

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