The pros and cons of social media

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RIP-OFF ALERT: Social media is impacting our world both for the good and the bad. I have opposite examples that illustrate the pros and the cons.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged an Illinois man with trying to sell $500 billion in fake high-interest bank guarantee notes using sites like LinkedIn. As you might imagine, there were no notes for sale. The SEC does not believe the man actually made any sales, though his ambition was to make Bernie Madoff look like a small fry!

The ease with which sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook allow people to communicate for free is made to order for criminals. Crooks will friend you and spin a yarn to convince you about their ‘opportunity.’ Know that this is no different than any other form of affinity fraud, where you’re roped in based on your religion, profession or where you live.  

When you think about it, Bernie Madoff had the country club as his stomping grounds where he sold his fraud. Today, social media requires no costly initiation, no greens fees and no monthly dues. Crooks can just set up a Facebook or Twitter and they’re off to the races.

It goes without saying that saving or investing through somebody you meet on social media is a recipe for disaster.

On the other hand, the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene reports that social media allowed public health officials to get a head-start on a cholera outbreak in Haiti because word of the infection spread on Twitter.

Of course, false reports of outbreaks could spread too causing panic. But in this case, it worked in a positive way. Public health researchers are still trying to figure out how to harness the power of social media.



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