Social-media tools are fine, but beware their playground rules

Agencies getting into the social-media game are using blogs, Facebook pages and tweets to good effect. But as agencies increase their presence on the Web 2.0 front, they should keep in mind the rules of this particular playground. Basically, there are none — at least, none that you can count on.

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Deception comes with the territory, whether it manifests itself in genuine security threats or plain old mischief.

Recently, new applications on Facebook turned out to be malware schemes. Hackers used search engine optimization tricks to try to lure people looking for Microsoft Security Essentials to malicious Web sites. The list goes on.

Fake Twitter accounts have become fairly common, although they’re often obvious parodies. In fact, they've become so common that even victims of these pranks are expected to take it in stride. St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa tried to sue Twitter after someone put up a fake account in his name and got laughed out of the blogosphere for taking it so seriously.

Twitter itself is being mocked in a YouTube video about a nanoblogging service named Flutter, which limits its “flaps” to 26 characters because “people don’t have time to twitter.”

Social-media tools give agencies a lot of potential for interacting with the public. But it would be a shame if it gets to a point when there is no telling what is real and what is fake.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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