It started when my Twitter account started texting my cell phone. Suddenly my inbox got flooded with messages. Hundreds of them, from people I didn’t know. All the messages were written in Portuguese. A bit of sleuthing revealed that my account had been hacked. After spending an hour deleting the reams of messages that had collected over two days, I changed my password. And voila! I immediately lost my fan base of piratas eletrônicos.
Then came a new wave of messages, purportedly from people I do know. These missives were mildly unpleasant. They said intriguing things like, “Oh my God, this person is saying horrible things about you online.” They included a link for me to click. Somehow I knew that if I clicked that link, I’d be the next person in line sending news of horrible rumors to all my contacts. Against huge temptation, I resisted clicking the links. (If you really want to read horrible things about me online, just check out my 1-star Amazon reviews).
It’s not just Twitter that’s gone wacky. Every day comes fresh news of some kind of Facebook privacy or hacking scare. Every so often I read desperate-sounding messages from friends, in which they disclaim some bizarre message that had been sent in their names. Yesterday someone sent out a dark warning that hackers were posting pornographic pictures on my timeline. The catch: I can’t see the pictures, but everyone else can. (That one turned out to be a hoax.)
And then there’s LinkedIn. I don’t use LinkedIn much, but one day I made a minor change to my profile. Somehow that simple update auto-triggered a “connection request” to be sent out to everyone in my contact book. Those contacts included a couple of ex-boyfriends who, trust me, I don’t want to be linked to again.
So what’s happening with these social media sites? My relationship with them has gone from fun to semi-fearful. It feels like I’ve been dating a guy who seemed charming and easygoing at first, only to discover that he’s a passive-aggressive control freak with a secret cyberporn habit.
I have a theory about the whole thing. I think social media sites change their character when they go public. Once the bean counters start trying to figure out ways to wring money from their user base, a la Facebook and LinkedIn, the whole experience goes cockeyed. You have to start triple-guarding your privacy from that moment on.
And let’s talk about hackers for a second. What kind of pathetic, loser soul spends his time thinking up ways to randomly annoy strangers? Is this some kind of new mental illness going around? Or simply the revelation of one?
Whenever I get exasperated by this kind of silliness, it’s always nice to come back here to TKZ. Our little plot of cybersphere is actually a community. We all are trying for the same thing–to improve our writing–without ulterior motive. (Well, except for occasional BSP–Blatant Self Promotion–when we have a new book out.)
So thank you, my fellow TKZ’ers, for being here. And tell me, have you noticed that the social media world is getting scarier? Have you had any experience being hacked or hoaxed?