Social media scams

Salad Days, Swindling, and Social Media

In November of 1964, Jack Weinberg posed the phrase “don’t trust anyone over 30.”  While this phrase has been attributed to the Beatles, Abbie Hoffman, and Jerry Rubin, all icons of the 1960s, research finds that Mr. Weinberg coined the phrase when he was a member of the Free Speech Movement. 

While a free speech is a tenant of the United States and a right outlined in our Constitution, from our founding fathers to Mr. Weinberg, few could imagine what technology has brought us.  Social media has redefined free speech in a manner never imagined over two-hundred years ago. While free speech is protected by law, its amplification has exceeded anything imaginable two-hundred years ago.

Over fifty years after Weinberg’s advisory, the youth have taken it to heart, adopting every new social media as soon as it hits the circuits, hoping that their elders will not know about it. The youth share their stories and have thousands of “friends”, the majority of which they couldn’t identify in person if in the same small room. Nonetheless, hiding behind technology and exchanging their youthful brilliance without the oversight of ignorant adults has become de riguer for the youth.

Social media scams

Unencumbered by parental oversight, loaded with countless friends, and confident of their vast knowledge, social media is the home turf of the youth. Imagine, then, if you will, that someone would use Instagram to swindle money from these brilliant pioneers of technology, who have left their parents and their arcane experiences in the dustbin of history. 

It turns out that internet thieves claim to have the same “friends” on social media and thus adding legitimacy to their offers of “get rich quick” plans. The swindlers add in photos of themselves posing on luxury cars, which makes the pitch for the raw deal even more desirable. Of course, feeling left out of another modern trend is just another justification for the youth to invest (and lose) in another scam.

The pandemic only exacerbated the thievery problem, as quarantines caused even more extensive use of social media. To quote The Wall Street Journal of November 15, 2021: “Cyber security experts say millennials and Generation Z are particularly susceptible to these scams because social media is so integral to their lives.”  While fortune favors the bold, the swindlers of the world are always looking for a new angle to separate the naïve from their money. Those emails from African princes have gotten very old.

Social media scams

If there was a better reason to be careful about social media, consider this: “It can be particularly easy to manipulate users with personal information, such as where they go to school, what their goals are, and who they spend time with-all information that young people share freely on their social media profiles.” Another reason to skip the social media questions and revealing everything about your life, but then, I’m just a paranoid old geezer who sees evil everywhere.  Having read several books on spies, I can tell you that information is power; it is the power to make better decisions, and, in the cases of deception, the power to influence people.

Content creators and media influencers are quite susceptible to offers from fake “marketing agencies” who claim to have thousands of contacts who will share them with the entrepreneurs-for a price.  If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Personally, I had someone call me about a marketing service, and yet, was unable to have even one person that they helped call me and endorse their services. As an older person, all I can say is: Learn from others’ mistakes. You don’t have time to learn them all yourself.

Perhaps I missed the profuse apologies and bitter condemnation of Sussman that the mainstream media undertook, or perhaps all I detect is a deafening silence.

Jeffrey Neil Jackson

Jeffrey Neil Jackson is an
Educator & Literary Mercenary

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