Social Media Tip of the Week: STOP CLICKING THAT LINK!

December 9, 2009·
Creepy phisherman.
Creepy phisherman.

My social media tip of the week this week SHOULD be common sense, but apparently, and alas, for some people, it is not.


You know the link I’m talking about. The link in your Facebook inbox, the tagged photo meme, your Twitter DM’s, etcetera, etcetera…

Here are some examples of what I am referring to and these are cut and paste DIRECTLY from my Twitter and Facebook inboxes (No worries, I have broken the links so that they don’t infect you):

  • Hey, I just added you to my Mafia family. You should accept my invitation! 🙂 Click here:
  • We Only Have Space for 1000 Participants and Each Week We Are At Full Capacity So Don’t Delay and Register Right NOW!
  • If Guy likes it, I will try it! RT @Guykawasaki I just tried this service… and it works!
  • Thanks for following me. Start making more money in 15 minutes:
  • “Hi, this you on here?”
  • “Your friend’s booty looks gooood in this video.”
  • “I found your old pictures from high school!”

No, you’re booty doesn’t look good in that video. No, your friend did NOT find your pictures from high school. And if they did, they wouldn’t just DM you a creepy link. These are what is known as PHISHING scams. No, not ploys to get you to listen to old Phish albums. Phishing scams are defined as (via Wikipedia):

In the field of computer security, phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Communications purporting to be from popular social web sites, auction sites, online payment processors or IT administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting public. Phishing is typically carried out by e-mail or instant messaging,[1] and it often directs users to enter details at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one.

Essentially, when you click that link that you SHOULD NOT CLICK, a tiny virus gets into your computer system and spreads that virus to all of your contacts (or sends a similar link out to people in your network hoping THEY, too, will click the link). And so on and so forth. That virus can steal ALL of your vital information, logins, usernames, passwords, and even credit card and personal information (like addresses, etc.)

Also, if you get an email or a direct message that asks you to change you password, put in your information, or update something, DON’T DO IT through that link. Some links sent to us look VERY real using real graphics, correct information, etc.

The FIRST thing you should do is manually access the website in question – meaning, click out of whatever window you are in, shut down your browser all the way, open up a new browser window, then type in the web address manually. Once you have accessed the site in question, if you REALLY do need to change something, it should say it when you login legitimately.

Also, the FTC has a great site on ways to protect yourself from confusing phishing scams.

So, EVEN IF you trust the person who has sent you the link, double check with them to make sure it is legit. I question my friends all the time just to be sure.

But seriously, stop clicking that link that says, “ROFL, is this you?! [insert spammy link here].” OF COURSE IT IS NOT YOU. Seriously, people? Who is clicking these links.

So, for the sake of all of us. Stop clicking that phishing link. You know the one I’m talking about.

Question: What examples have YOU seen of “good” phishing scams? And by “good,” I mean, they seem legitimate, but end up getting you. Why do YOU think people are clicking the links? What’s your opinion?