Sunday, November 8, 2009

Facebook Games, Scams, and Common Sense

"Are You Getting Scammed by Facebook Games?"
Time (November 6, 2009)

"Facebook games — Mafia Wars, FarmVille, Restaurant City — have become surprisingly effective at diverting time wasters among the social-networking crowd. More than 63 million people alone play FarmVille. But now accusations have surfaced that the games can lead some more gullible players, including children, into Internet scams, especially if they have a cell phone.

Here's how it works. You join FarmVille, a game on Facebook in which you can create a virtual farm by growing crops and livestock and tilling the earth. Through your toil, you earn virtual money, but to farm more efficiently or quickly, you can also invest real cash (through PayPal or a credit card) to buy virtual goods, such as seed or a tractor. Should you not have any real cash to spare on things that after all do not actually exist, you can instead accept an offer from one of the advertisers on the game site and get virtual cash in return. (See the top 10 Internet blunders.)

"These offers, generally known in the business as lead-gen (lead generators), will give you some seed/tractor money in return for signing up for, say, a subscription to Netflix or a credit card. But less scrupulous advertisers lure players in with an offer to take a bogus survey or IQ test. Once it's completed they require a cell-phone number to send you the results. When you enter your cell number and create a password, you have unwittingly subscribed to a service you never wanted but will be billed for...."

The article is common-sense observations and advice. I've got a Facebook account, and have played Farmville - it's fun, for a while - and have run into some of the redolent come-ons mentioned. And no, I haven't given my cell phone number to some anonymous Web page. Or my password, or Social Security Number. I also haven't left the house keys in the mail box.

I think an important point in the article is that kids use the Internet - and don't have the judgment adults are supposed to have. Which means, I think, friendly supervision.

1If you follow that link, scroll down until you see "View the full list for "Top 10 Internet Blunders" - which takes you to a list of links - of blunders made by companies, and at least one that an individual could make - giving your password to a scammer.


Stephen said...

I spend several hours outside of wow "playing" wow : Rawr simulator, guild website, mmo forums... i very much agree with tobold, as for me the future of mmorpg is offline (well, not directly ingame anyway). Those tools SHOULD be part of the game. Look at the success already of the armory service-oriented architecture, and the number of applications done out of it :)

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...


Ah, right.

The word (name?) "tobold" doesn't appear in this post - but your comment is vaguely related to the topic.

Everybody else,

I have not checked the link that Stephen left - and have no idea what sort of content you'd land in.

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