The recent focus on “Fake News” is almost comical. Fake news is as old as the Internet itself; if it wasn’t born on the internet it certainly blossomed there. The early versions of fake Internet news were those spam (before we really knew what spam was) messages that said AOL and Bill Gates will give you $2175 for forwarding this message to 9 people”. I always loved those, why – AOL and Bill Gates and not AOL and Microsoft? These are the questions that keep me up at night.
You see some kind of fake story every day, and most of them are really harmless. However, clicking on one of those little news stories on the side of your screen can land you in big trouble. There are countless fake stories claiming Mick Jagger or Brad Pitt “left us too soon”, which implies they died, and of course makes you want to find out if it’s true. They lure you in with some kind of sensational headline just to throw advertising in front of you or, far worse – infect your computer. You could get off easy and just get a virus or some spyware that is nothing more than a minor annoyance. Or, your data could be lost forever. Or you may even be taken for a ride.
Internet “muggers” are getting smarter and smarter, and they have nothing else to do except sit around and think of ways to get into your pockets. If there is a way to steal from you, they will find it. Education is your biggest defense against viruses and theft, so stop and consider the message or headline before you click on something. Do not make it easier for them by falling for some scam or by clicking on the latest image telling you The Loch Ness Monster and Beyonce are having a love child.
Move along, there’s nothing to see here… I guarantee it ain’t true.