February 5, 2013 By Dan Lohrmann
Notifications sent from social media companies. Some people love them – others want them to go away.
Is your inbox filling up with reminders for you to logon - or miss out? Has guilt or curiosity been used to get you to come back? Lately, I’ve come to discover that emails can be helpful, annoying, rude and even fake.
Do any of these social media emails look familiar?
“Priscilla tagged you in 3 photos on Facebook.”
“Your friends (insert names) are waiting to see their posts on your timeline.”
“Saralee commented on Priscilla’s photo of you.”
“You have 3 connection requests, 10 tagged photos and 2 pokes waiting on Facebook.”
Perhaps you welcome these regular notifications. But as an infrequent Facebook user, I must admit that they’ve become rather annoying to me lately. On the other hand, my wife and daughters appreciate them, so it seems that everyone views these messages differently.
But I’m not alone in wondering about the default setting for sending these notifications. In fact, you can even ‘like’ this message which proclaims - Facebook: stop sending me emails.
And frustration is not only about Facebook’s email notifications. Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn have their own share of both helpful reminders and pushy messages. For example, this article discusses the Google+ birthday reminder feature:
“Many find Facebook's birthday reminders silly. Either they're overlooked entirely or lead to a post attack that clutters up someone's Wall (or Timeline). The folks behind Google+, on the other hand, might've just figured out how to make birthday reminders better (or less annoying, at least).”
On the negative side, this article points to the downside of Google+ suggestions to friends:
I understand that your goal is to get everybody using Google+ and I know your reasons behind it. But I’m pretty put off by being asked on EVERY SINGLE SEARCH QUERY whether or not I’d like to ask my friends about something. It’s like the Facebook share button on a porn site. There are things that I don’t ever want to talk to my friends about, even if they’re not embarrassing, so please stop asking me.
Whether these messages annoy you or not, you’d better make sure that they are, in fact, genuine. There are true stories of fake social media messages which deliver malware. This article about a Facebook photo notification tells of one phony message.
“Be careful about opening emails that claim you have been tagged in a Facebook photo, because they may actually be malware, according to a security expert.
Sophos's NakedSecurity blog outlined the threat on Wednesday. The company's SophosLabs intercepted a "spammed-out email campaign" which was designed to spread malware.”
Can you tell real messages apart from fake ones? This blog test your ability to spot real Facebook messages from fake ones that download malware.
“Unfortunately, phishers are getting better at what they do, and spotting a fake isn't as easy as you might think. I've assembled four Facebook notifications that arrived in my e-mail inbox recently. Can you tell which are real and which are fake? (Click any image to see it at full size, or visit the accompanying gallery to flip through all four screens at full size.)”
Turning Off Notifications
Yes, you can trim down or turn off these notifications in Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
This link can help you turn off notifications for your Google+ calendar.
Or, this Business Insider article covers turning off (or cutting back on) Facebook notifications.
There’s even a service to turn off the notifications across multiple platforms. For example, the Notifymenot service, which is described here, turns off notifications for multiple social media sites.
Turning Off Social Media Entirely?
But some are going much further. They are asking if it is even time to quit social media altogether? I’m not going that far, but here’s an excerpt from a thought-provoking article I read recently:
“…Almost a quarter of Americans say that they’ve missed out on important life moments in their quest to capture and memorialize them for social media. Think about that the next time you’re Instagraming your anniversary dinner at P.F. Chang’s. With the ubiquity of communications technology in our daily lives, it’s easy to convince ourselves that the digital world is where all the action is and that the effort we put into building our online empire directly correlates to IRL benefits such as scoring a new job or landing a new mate. In fact, over 90% of job hunters of all ages look for work online, but less than 5% are conducting offline job hunting activities such as attending networking events or setting up information interviews. And guess what? A full 70 – 80% of job vacancies are never posted, so all that job board scouring is likely for naught….”
I’m not going that far, but as I mentioned last year about this time, I know people who are giving up much of their online life, at least for a season such as Lent.
As for me, I’m just cutting back on the notices a bit. I like using social media, but my inbox is filling up with too many notifications. Now that the Super Bowl is over, I think it’s time to go on a notifications diet.
How about you? Do you like social media notifications?
Building effective virtual government requires new ideas and hard work. Security professionals need to be enablers of innovation. From helpful Internet training to defending cloud computing architectures to securing mobile devices, Dan Lohrmann will cover what's hot and what's not in protecting your corner of cyberspace.