Category Archives: Social Media

News, views, analysis and tips on Social Networking and Social Media. News from Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, Digg, Reddit and more.

Victoria Nigar, a top Google+ Profile in 42,550+ Circles is Apparently a Fake

Google+ has enforced a strict policy, when it comes to names. Google has made it mandatory that all Google+ users must compulsorily use their real names in Google+. Details on name policy can be found on this page. As with any other social network, Google+ was also facing problems of fake celebrity accounts, and they addressed it conventionally with the verified account feature. However, these measures were not enough to keep fakers at bay.

Recently, a Google+ profile has been discovered, which easily features among the top 1000 Google+ accounts worldwide, but is actually a fake account. The Google+ account of Victoria Nigar has attracted a lot of attention lately. She is in over 42,550 circles, and is ranked 545 among top Google+ users in the world, #10 in Canada. Clearly, she has a huge following, but the people who follow her looking at her profile have not the slightest clue that its a fake profile.

Whoever owns this profile is in violation of one of the Google+ account terms.

Don’t pretend to be someone else.
Impersonation is a serious issue. Pretending to be someone else could cause your profile to be deleted. If someone is pretending to be you, go to their profile and click Report this profile.

This graph at Circle Count shows the growth of Victoria’s circles over time.

Even the display picture on her Google+ profile is a fake, and is of Susan Coffey, who happens to be a model.

This profile has been playing it smart, and has managed to stay one of the top Google+ profiles. However, what gave her away was probably her “About” page, which has the word “Google” written in every field. So, she has worked at Google for 10+ years from 2000, her bragging right is “Google”, her occupation is “Google” and even the “other name” field on her profile says Google.

If you visit her profile recently, you will see that the employment details have been taken down. Even Louis Gray, the famous Google+ evangelist fell for this fake profile, and shared her profile as part of one of his circles.

This is easily the biggest con on Google+ until now, and it has left everyone clueless with the only hint being, the first few tweets from the account were in Russian, whereas she claims to have lived only in California and San Francisco.

Twitter Tweaks Censorship Rules to Enter New Countries

A year ago, on this very day, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone from Twitter wrote a detailed post on their blog, outlining their efforts with transparency, censorship of Tweets and keeping the flow of tweets alive. The dramatic headline was “The Tweets must flow”, and it raised some valid concerns regarding the Twitter platform and the content that people share on it.

An excerpt from the page reads,

Our position on freedom of expression carries with it a mandate to protect our users’ right to speak freely and preserve their ability to contest having their private information revealed. While we may need to release information as required by law, we try to notify Twitter users before handing over their information whenever we can so they have a fair chance to fight the request if they so choose.

After an year, today, the Twitter blog has posted another article titled “The Tweets still must flow” and this time, they have announced an improvement to their implementation of censorship. Until now, all geopolitical tweets, which were banned, were removed entirely from the Twitter account of a user. However, starting this year, Twitter has an innovative plan to remove a tweet only from the geographical region that considers it sensitive. Additionally, the user will be notified whenever some content undergoes this partial-censorship on Twitter.

This new policy will help Twitter enter new geographical regions, which have stringent laws regarding free speech. It will also safeguard a user from strict and harsh free-speech laws within some countries. However, it might end up diminishing the user’s accountability, which again will be an excuse for Governments to raise the bar on their version of censorship.

Facebook Finalizes Timeline, Rolling Out to All Facebook Users Now

When Facebook unveiled Timeline for the first time and we caught a glimpse of it at their F8 developer summit, it was clear that Facebook has big plans for this feature. Timeline was a major upgrade for the social network, and it was definitely going to stay. What we did not know, was how far Facebook would keep developing it, before rolling it out to the public permanently. Well, the wait is over, and stating today, Timeline is an official Facebook feature, available to all Facebook users. The final rollout of timeline took Facebook four months from its first preview.

In these four months, Facebook acquired Gowalla possibly to improve Timeline, or to integrate location services (Facebook places, in this case) with Timeline in some way. Timeline was also released on 15 December as an opt-in feature in New Zealand, where you had to enable Timeline for your account by yourself, if you wanted to use it. This time though, Timeline will be the default view on your profile. Although you can select to opt-out of Timeline for a few more days (at facebook.com/about/timeline), eventually, your account will be upgraded to use Timeline.

I have been using Timeline for quite some time now, using a trick that was revealed right after the first preview of Timeline (irrelevant now). Timeline has some interesting UX aspects that make it wonderful for a walk down memory lane. It gives more meaning and organization to the stream of Facebook posts, presenting it as a meaningful stream of thoughts over time.

Timeline is available on both the Facebook website, and on the Android Facebook app. If you have not seen Timeline on your profile yet, you will get it very soon. Tag your photos properly and clean up your albums for a meaningful Facebook Timeline experience on your profile. Here is the Facebook Timeline introduction video for those did not get a chance to see it yet.

Fake ‘Facebook Security’ Account Used to Send Phishing Messages

According to a report from the Kaspersky Lab, a new phishing attack on Facebook has been discovered that primarily attempts to steal account information of Facebook users and compromise the account. The attackers then attempt to gather the financial information including credit card data and other sensitive information from the victim.

According to Kaspersky Lab’s David Jacoby, the attackers are not just tricking users to visit a phishing site, but are trying to scare them by sending them warning messages by using a fake “Facebook Security” account. The compromised accounts will be used to steal available personal information and then change both the profile picture and name to try the trick on other Facebook users.

The profile picture will be changed to the Facebook logo and the name will be changed to “Facebook Security” with special ASCII characters replacing the letters such as “a” “k” “S” and “t”. Here is a screen shot of the message sent from a fake account –

Facebook Security Phishing Attack

The message – “Last Warning: Your Facebook account will be turned off Because someone has reported you. Please do re-confirm your account security by: [LINK] Thank you. The Facebook Team,” is used as a warning message sent to users via Facebook Messages and Facebook Chat.

The link used in the message leads users to a phishing site. When we tried opening the page using Google Chrome, the following warning message was displayed – “Phishing sites trick users into disclosing personal or financial information, often by pretending to represent trusted institutions, such as banks.”

The site, however, is designed to look like a Facebook page and prompts the victim to enter the name, email address, password, security question, email account password, country, and date of birth. After having provided with all the information, the victim will be redirected to another page with the heading “Payment Verification” that asks for the first six digits of the victim’s credit card. Accordingly, in the following pages, the user is asked to enter the full credit card number along with the expiry date, CVV code (Security code), and the billing address.

Payment Verification - Fake

If you’re an active Facebook user, then the most important thing that you must know is that Facebook never asks its users to enter their password(s), or credit card details. Check the URL of the site that you’re visiting and make sure it is genuine. Most of the sites that require users to enter any financial information, have a secured HTTPS connection, which are often used for payment transactions on the World Wide Web and for sensitive transactions in corporate information systems, which was not true in this case.

Also Read: Google Chrome Now Blocks Insecure Scripts on HTTPS

If you’ve been warned with such a message on Facebook, then ignore it. Alternatively, you can contact the Facebook Security team here and check if they sent the message or not. We have reported a similar Facebook Security Network Phishing Attack back in August 2011.

“These scams are just getting more popular and we really recommend not giving out personal information, especially not email, password and credit card information over social medias,” Jacoby wrote. “It is also recommend[ed] that you contact your security vendor and the social media vendor if you encounter these sites.”

Facebook Comments Box Now Supports Adding Comments via Mobile

Facebook announced that they have now extended its comments plugin (the Comment Box) to work on mobile supported websites. Websites with the Comment Box plugin embedded in them will enable its mobile visitors to use the plugin to add their comments and views.

“Today we’re launching the Comments Box plugin for mobile to make it easier for media sites to engage people across the web and mobile devices, and for people to comment on news regardless of where they’re reading it,” Facebook announced.

Installing the plugin for mobile devices requires no additional tasks. When a user visits a website supporting the feature, the Comment Box will be automatically displayed on the mobile version of the site. The plugin is designed to automatically recognize when a user is on a mobile device and unlike its previous versions, the plugin ensures to ignore the width parameter so that the comments are displayed at 100 percent.

Facebook Comment Box for Mobile Devices

However, Developers or Webmasters can disable the automatic width feature by setting the mobile parameters to false and can manually control the width settings. A complete documentation of this can be viewed from here.

Facebook unveiled the completely revamped Comment Box for websites earlier in March 2011. This intended to reduce spam comments on websites, since commenting using the box would require the user to login to his Facebook account first. Comments posted by a user will also appear on the commenter’s profile, unless the user manually chooses not to “post” comments by changing the user Privacy Settings.

Back in November 2011, we found out that comments added using the Facebook’s commenting systems were indexed by the search engine giant, Google. Queries like “commenter name and commenter title” will display all the comments the commenter may have written on different websites using Facebook or equivalent services.

Having the Facebook Comment Box plugin work on mobile devices might improve interactions and reduce spam, and of course, it does make life easier for website owners and its regular readers that use the plugin.

Facebook App Lets You Post Your Last Status Update From The Grave

Facebook has an internal policy which “memorializes” the personal profiles of users who have died. The account of the deceased person is sealed from future login attempts and is not shown on search results and friend suggestion sections. If any of your friends or family members have recently died and you want to close his/her Facebook account permanently, head over to this form and complete your request.

Some savvy Facebook users are rather worried about the fact that they wont get their last chance to update their Facebook profile, when they are dead.

“Is there any way to authorize someone else to post on behalf of me and announce my death on Facebook?” The short answer is that as long as you don’t share your Facebook username and password with the person whom you want to post on behalf of you, there is no way you can execute this crazy idea. I agree the thought is grim but to some blind Facebook addicts, this is a concern. An important one.

An Israeli company named Wilook thought that if users have spent their entire life on Facebook, they have the right to post their last status update or publish a sweet video message to their friends and followers. The Facebook app “If I Die On Facebook” is the first and only Facebook application that lets “you” create a video or a text message that will only be published after you die. Super creepy!

if-i-die-facebook-status-update

The app lets you compose a text message as your “farewell speech” and then designate three of your friends as “Trustees”. When you are dead, these trustees will have to confirm your death and then your custom farewell messages will get posted on your profile. There aren’t any limitations on the number of messages you can create, so this is one good way to achieve a state of “social media immortality”.

Personally, I would just share my Facebook username and password with a close friend and request him to post a “farewell message” on behalf of me (of course when I am dead). But if you want your virtual friends to “Like” your death and comment upon it until eternity, you might want to use this app. Just make sure your “trustees” don’t have any grudges against you or this thing can misfire. The following video explains how the app works:

Sadly, you can’t “poke” someone from your grave. If I am forced to use this app, I would leave one short message – “You are next.”

Ramnit Worm Steals 45,000 Facebook Passwords

If you are a Facebook user in the United Kingdom or in France, then it’s time to change your account password. The infamous Ramnit worm, which earlier was used to gain access to financial credentials, is now targeting users on Facebook. Reports indicate that the worm was first detected 18 months ago, and is now continuing to evolve on the social networking giant.

According to researchers at the Israeli firm Seculert, a variant of Ramnit was found and has managed to steal over 45,000 Facebook users’ credentials, mostly in the United Kingdom and France, and infected over 800,000 systems from September to December 2011.

Ramnit a is malware program that is designed to attack Windows executable files (.exe files), MS Office, and HTML documents. TheFacebook Security malware is used to steal sensitive information such as user names, passwords, FTP credentials, and browser cookies. The malware program can “bypass two-factor authentication and transaction signing systems, gain remote access to financial institutions, compromise online banking sessions and penetrate several corporate networks,” Seculert wrote in a blog post Thursday.

Hackers are posting scam messages with links to bogus sites to spread the malware program. When users visit an infected web page, malware programs are automatically downloaded on the user’s computer, which gathers all the required information, like login credentials and saved passwords. The credentials are then accessed by the hackers to compromise users’ accounts. Once the victim’s account is compromised, it is suspected that the Ramnit download link is posted on the Facebook Timeline.

Learn: How to Prevent Your Facebook Account from Getting Hacked

We at Techie Buzz have warned our readers several times on scams spreading on Facebook, and have also provided tips on how to identify and avoid clicking scam links on Facebook. Facebook has recently added two new security features – Trusted Friends and Application Passwords – which are intended to keep your account secured and keep hackers at bay.

As a precautionary measure, always check which applications you use and remove unwanted or suspicious ones. If you are not sure how to do it, you can always check our guide on – removing apps from Facebook. In addition to that, don’t forget to check out our article about – Avoiding Facebook Lifejacking and Clickjacking scams.

Also Read: Facebook Introduces Sweeping Sharing and Privacy Changes

Bookmark – Techie Buzz – Facebook Scams. We always keep you updated with the latest scams spreading on Facebook.

Facebook Cited as Evidence in One-Third of Divorce Cases in the UK

Facebook A new report from the UK based Divorce-Online.com blames Facebook for one-third of divorces in the country. A similar study conducted in 2009 had pegged Facebook’s involvement in divorces at 20%.

The increasing impact of Facebook on people’s personal lives is hardly surprising, given that users around the globe are becoming more and more habituated to sharing stuff about their lives that they wouldn’t otherwise shout out in public.

“People contact ex-partners and the messages start as innocent, but lead to trouble”, explained Mark Keenan, managing director of Divorce-Online. “If someone wants to have an affair or flirt with the opposite sex then it’s the easiest place to do it”.

Marriages often fall apart when spouses discover secrets about their partner on Facebook. Anne-Marie Hutchinson, at Dawson Cornwell Solicitors, said, “If you are keeping things from your partner, Facebook makes it so much easier for them to find out.”

The top three reasons for including Facebook as evidence in divorce cases are:

  • Inappropriate messages to members of the opposite sex.
  • Separated spouses posting nasty comments about each other.
  • Facebook friends reporting spouse’s behaviour.

By comparison, Twitter appeared only in 20% of cases, and when it appeared it was mostly because Twitter was used to make inappropriate comments about exes.

Google+ May Have 400 Million Users by End of 2012

According to a public post by Paul Allen, who claims himself as the unofficial Google+ statistician”, the newly launched social networking site, Google+, in competition with Facebook, will have nearly 400 million users by the end of 2012.

Well, that means that Google Plus will have a user base half the size of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook (taking the current 800 million users in consideration). This prediction is done with the help of the current rate of new signups on Google+. Currently, Google Plus is having over 62 million users, adding over 625,000 new users every day.

Here are the statistics provided by Allen –

  • July 13 – 10 million
  • August 1 – 20.5 million
  • September 1 – 24.7 million
  • October 1 – 38 million (Larry Page announced “more than 40m users” on Oct 13th)
  • November 1 – 43 million
  • December 1 – 50 million
  • December 27 – 62 million
  • January 1 – 65.8 million (forecast)
  • February 1 – 85.2 million (forecast)

Paul Allen states that –

Google+ is adding new users at a very rapid pace. It may be the holidays, the TV commercials, the Android 4 signups, celebrity and brand appeal, or positive word of mouth, or a combination of all these factors, but there is no question that the number of new users signing up for Google+ each day has accelerated markedly in the past several weeks.

Google Plus Growth Rate (Predicted)

In comparison, Facebook reported that it has over 800 million users as of September, while Twitter  reported  460,000 signups per day, which has obviously shot up after its integration with iOS 5. Now, looking at the (predicted) growth of Google Plus, the numbers are surely insane.

However, the question that strikes is whether users on Google Plus are only creating accounts, or do they even use it? Well, only Google has the answer to that question.

Allen’s stats have only predicted the current users registered on the site. However, his numbers do not indicate how many are actively using the social network. Last month, some stats suggested that over half the network’s first 15 million members hadn’t been back a week after joining,  the  Telegraph  reports.

Recently, Google+ announce new features on the site, including simple slider to control the stream, multiple admins for Google+ Pages, new photo Lightbox, and “Find My Facefacial recognition tool.

So, this question is out to our readers. When was the last time you opened your Google Plus page/account? Which among the three Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus have been the most dominant? Let us know by adding your comments below, or over on our  Facebook page.

Facebook Chat Emoticon Trick: Use The Profile Photo Of A Person, Page Or Event In A Chat Message

Some good news for Facebook addicts who always wondered whether it is possible to use the profile photo of anyone as an emoticon in a Facebook chat message. The answer is a clear Yes, even for people you aren’t friends with.

When you are chatting with any of your Facebook friends and want to use the profile photo of any Facebook user, page or event as an emoticon, follow these steps:

1. Copy the vanity URL of the user whose Facebook profile photo you want to use as an emoticon. For example: if you want to use the profile image of Techie Buzz Facebook fan page, simply copy TechieBuzz(without quotes).

2. Some fan pages or event pages have a unique ID associated with their URL. Copy the page ID if the vanity URL is not available.

3. Enclose the vanity string or the number within double brackets e.g [[TechieBuzz]].

4. Hit send. The double bracketed text will convert into an emoticon of the user whose vanity URL was enclosed within double brackets. Sweet!

Here are a couple of examples I tried with my friend Jatin on Facebook chat and it worked as advertised:

facebook-profile-emoticon-chat-trick

 

As long as your Facebook profile is publicly viewable and people know the vanity URL of your Facebook profile, page or event, anyone can use the profile photo as an emoticon. Locked pages or groups, which requires an invitation to join, shows a blank white thumbnail but such is not the case with real Facebook users.

These profile emoticons are viewable from web only and does not work in mobile apps e.g the messenger app on Android or the official Facebook application for Android. You can send the emoticons from mobile and the web but the thumbnails will only appear when you are viewing the chat log from the web. An example is shown below:

facebook-profile-image-emoticon-android

This new profile emoticons may actually redefine online personification. Two people conversing on Facebook and frequently using their friends profile emoticons e.g why are you behaving like [[mr X]]?or you sound so much like [[Ms Z]]. The best line I have heard until now, comes from Josh –   Don’t be such a Justin bieber.

Thanks Jatin.