The “newness” of the internet is beginning to wear off, and the American people are becoming keenly aware of the dangers that lurk behind their every keystroke.
In reality, there is a strong case for comparison between the internet of years past and the wild west of the American 1870’s and 1880’s. When the internet first arrived in American homes some 20-odd years ago, it was simultaneously an untamed land and a new frontier that would come to change nearly every facet of modern life on this planet. But, as with all things uncharted, evil lurked in the dark corners of internet.
Like the road agents of western lore, the internet was bereft with schemes and scams for a good, long time. Even to this day we hear tales of Americans falling for the now-classic “Nigerian Prince” tomfoolery that has become the stuff of web legends.
Police in New Orleans have arrested a 67-year-old man after they say he helped swindle people out of thousands of dollars as a middleman in a “Nigerian prince” internet scam.
The New Orleans Advocate reports that Michael Neu, of Slidell, is facing 269 counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.
The phishing scam involves getting an email from a Nigerian official who claims the recipient has been named a beneficiary in a will and will inherit at least $1 million. The victim is then asked to send personal information which is used to con them out of their money.
This story comes to us from 2017 – some 25 years after this particular con was first outed in the mainstream media. Two and half decades stand between the widespread knowledge of the trickery and today, yet people are still falling for it.
Much like the wild west, the internet’s frontier seems to move faster than the law can. In the case of Manifest Destiny, we had train robberies and organized gangs riding through any number of shack-heavy outposts on the edge of where the authorities roamed. On the internet, we have data breaching scandals and phishing schemes.
We even have our own version of the crooked saloon keeper, who holds monopoly over your free time and how you spend your money. It’s not some savvy British entrepreneur, however. In our modern Dodge City, we have Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, who is integrating his platform so wholly into the fabric of society that it seems almost necessary to provide him with the data that he desires.
But, unlike the saloon owner who was at least bound to his word, Zuckerberg’s insufficient grip on his company’s power has allowed many a ne’er do well to arrive in camp.
Facebook has admitted in an announcement that most of its 2 billion users may have been compromised by “malicious actors.”
CommonDreams.com reports that Facebook has admitted that more user accounts may have been compromised than those announced during the company’s most recent data scandal. Initial reports stated that approximately 51 million accounts were allegedly targeted in the Cambridge Analytica user data scandal, Facebook later clarified after an internal audit that the number was closer to 87 million, but it now seems that the company has admitted after further research that nearly all of Facebook’s 2 billion accounts could have users personal info scraped from them by a variety of “malicious actors.”
WIRED journalist Matt Burgess noted that Facebook’s last statement on the data scandal briefly mentioned that “most” of the site’s two billion users had personal info scraped from their Facebook profiles by “malicious actors.”
And, to our knowledge, very little has been done so far to combat Facebook’s rampant loss of control over its user data – the only parameter of use that allows Facebook to be monetized at all.
Where’s Wyatt Earp when you need him?