December 11, 2009

How to Blackmail with Facebook

Greetings. In Facebook's Devious Privacy Ploy, I strongly criticized various aspects of Facebook's recent changes to their privacy settings environment, particularly elements of their new recommended defaults -- that I feel are nothing less than a privacy disaster.

But it's always useful to try find a silver lining even in the darkest clouds, so today let's explore how the new recommended Facebook privacy settings are in some ways the "gift that keeps on giving" -- and can be used to help fill your bank account with riches -- if you're a criminal, that is.

To quote Gene Wilder as Leo Bloom in 1968's The Producers: "Let's assume, just for the moment, that you are a dishonest man."

How could you leverage Facebook's recent privacy changes toward your goal of achieving true "money is honey" status?

The key is Facebook's new recommended default that makes user postings ("Posts by Me") available to everyone, in contrast to the earlier essentially equivalent category of "Status and Links" -- which defaulted to "Only Friends."

Recommended defaults are extremely powerful. It can be expected that vast numbers of Facebook users, likely the majority over time, will accept the new defaults and rarely if ever take advantage of the new "per posting" privacy options that are now available.

As a bold crook, this plays directly to your advantage.

For your Facebook blackmail operation to blossom, you'll probably want to concentrate on the vast bounty of posted photo albums that will be open to public viewing, where previously they would likely have been restricted only to any given Facebook user's friends. These photos are gold to your criminal operation.

As we know, many Facebook users unwisely post a variety of "compromising" photos on Facebook to share with their friends. These often involve partying, drinking, and other potentially embarrassing (or even illegal) activities. You can use these ingrained posting habits -- combined with Facebook's new privacy changes -- to your definite monetary advantage.

The technique is simplicity itself, but you'll need to get going now for maximum payoff.

Simply troll around Facebook gathering up every potentially embarrassing photo that you can find. Archive them carefully, along with all other available Facebook information related to the associated users. You can do this on a small scale and manually, or on a larger scale via automated techniques.

Massive numbers of Facebook users will have inadvertently exposed such materials to "Everyone" as a result of Facebook's new recommended defaults. By collecting these photos and other compromising Facebook items now, you'll be in a position to monetize them to your benefit later, after these users have belatedly realized that exposing that stuff so widely -- particularly those nasty photos -- was a really, seriously bad idea.

Ah, but they're too late! You've already got 'em by the ... well, you know what.

Now comes the fun part. Keep watch and note when users who previously had exposed embarrassing materials suddenly change their Facebook settings to clamp back down and limit access. Many of these Facebook subscribers will be the patsies who'll end up buying you everything that you've ever dreamed of.

The rest is obvious. You simply -- via various reasonably difficult to trace communications channels -- offer a "service" to these Facebook users to help prevent archived copies of those formerly exposed photos and other goodies from falling into the hands of boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, current or potential employers, law enforcement, and so on.

With a little luck, the bucks will come rolling in.

But as you count your ill-gotten gains, be sure to give thanks to those good folks at Facebook who made it all possible -- when they pushed their users into exposing to the world all those personal goodies that are now so enriching your life.

Yep, there's still a lot of money to be made on the Web!


Posted by Lauren at December 11, 2009 02:40 PM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
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