68% of Facebook Users Don’t Think Suspicious Links Are Suspicious
Last week, we reported on an experiment that proved how bad social networks like Facebook and Twitter were at protecting their users from malware, but it turns out user error might be just as big a problem. A new study claims that a majority of users are unaware that suspicious posts on Facebook could pose a security risk–and that most users don’t use any kind of security solution to protect their accounts.
The study may be somewhat biased–it was carried out on behalf of internet security provider BitDefender–but the results are nonetheless depressing for those who want to believe the best of their online brethren: On average, participants had 137 friends on a social network, with 42% of those taking part admitting that that number included people that they didn’t actually know, and 68% of all participants admitting that not only did they warn friends about potentially bad links, but that they also tended to click on the links themselves, thus spreading the threat.
The author of the survey, Sabina Datcu, reports that 93% of the 2,700 participants said “they either don’t need a security solution for Facebook or that they were unaware of these solutions.” Clearly, it’s time for someone to educate the Internet.
Well, that, or it’s time for us to become considerably more selective about who we chat up on Facebook.
Newt Gingrich and the Islamic Radical States of America
Speaking before the flock of evangelical pastor John Hagee, the master of political hyperbole has outdone himself this time:
Newt Gingrich stood before thousands of evangelical churchgoers Sunday night to deliver a dire warning that nation’s Christian roots are under attack.
“I have two grandchildren — Maggie is 11, Robert is 9,” Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church here. “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.” [emphasis added]
Hang on–can Gingrich really believe this? The secular atheism, maybe (although the U.S. remains a highly religious country, especially relative to its industrialized peers). But an America dominated by Islamic radicals? That’s the kind of thing you’d hear from a second-tier A.M. radio Glenn Beck wannabe.
So why would Gingrich talk this way? Perhaps it’s just his showman impulse at work. Gingrich has spent the past few years earning good money as a television commentator, author and DVD producer, and he’s previously tapped into the conservative mania over creeping Sharia-ism in America. This quote would be consistent with the theory that Gingrich–whose horrendous poll numbers cast his electability into real doubt–sees the presidential campaign primarily as a giant self-promotional opportunity.
Another theory would be that Newt simply to distract people. The more attention he draws for his commentary about religion in America, however outrageous, the more evangelical Republicans–who are crucial to his prospects in Iowa–are likely to embrace him. And the less people will discuss his three marriages and two affairs, or his naked flip-flops on Libya policy.
But we can’t know what’s on Gingrich’s mind. Perhaps he really does believe that, in less than 60 years, America will be dominated by Islamic radicals. How would that work, though? Bearded mullahs chairing Congressional hearings and deciding Supreme Court cases? (Hey, people say we already have a Muslim in the White House, after all!) Would NATO jets patrol the new Caliphate to defend it from whatever Crusader rabble still remains by the 2070s?
That vision may be an easy sell on the fringes of the far right. I don’t see how Gingrich can really believe it, or think that such talk makes him more credible as a future president.
All New Packaging! Less Food! Same Price! What a Deal!
It would be one thing if food companies acknowledged that due to rising costs, products had to be shrunk to avoid price increases. But the latest marketing gimmickry barely acknowledges shrinking products at all—and instead calls attention to the idea that smaller packages and less food is better for the environment and healthier for consumers. Consumers are being told that packages of Saltines with 15% fewer crackers and subbing 13 oz. cans of vegetables for the old 16 oz. units—while charging the same price as their older, larger equivalents—are amazing new advances shoppers should get excited about. So next time at the grocery store, pay no mind to the impression that somebody is peeing on your leg. The marketers will tell you it’s really just raining.
There’s nothing new about shrinking products. Companies have periodically tweaked packaging and slashed the amount of product inside. This is standard practice when the economy takes a dive, or when commodity prices rise, and just when companies feel like it. Hence, we have the 5 oz. can of tuna (formerly 6 oz., and before that, 7 oz.), and incredible shrinking Girl Scout cookies, and the feeling among some consumers that their butts are getting bigger (when, in fact, it’s just that toilet paper is getting smaller).
Now, though, as the NY Times reports, product reduction is so widespread and significant that it’s nearly impossible to disguise it. Rather than resort to even more absurd levels of optical illusion—how big can that carved-out dimple under a can of peanut butter get?—companies are stretching reality by pumping up the plus sides of paying the same for less. Per the Times:
Trying to keep customers from feeling cheated, some companies are introducing new containers that, they say, have terrific advantages — and just happen to contain less product.
Kraft is introducing “Fresh Stacks” packages for its Nabisco Premium saltines and Honey Maid graham crackers. Each has about 15 percent fewer crackers than the standard boxes, but the price has not changed. Kraft says that because the Fresh Stacks include more sleeves of crackers, they are more portable and “the packaging format offers the benefit of added freshness,” said Basil T. Maglaris, a Kraft spokesman, in an e-mail.
Well, you have to give Basil T. Maglaris credit: He’s trying.
I’m sure that at some point, consumers will also hear that these products are NEW! as well. Which is true. It’s also true—well sorta true anyway—that, as many marketers claim, products with smaller packaging are more environmentally friendly, and packages with less food contain less calories. Well, duh!
All of these claims insult the intelligence of consumers, which would be really offensive if consumers weren’t so gullible. Some insight from a source in the Times story:
“Consumers are generally more sensitive to changes in prices than to changes in quantity,” John T. Gourville, a marketing professor at Harvard Business School, said. “And companies try to do it in such a way that you don’t notice, maybe keeping the height and width the same, but changing the depth so the silhouette of the package on the shelf looks the same.”
Most consumers don’t notice. Or if they do, they’re annoyed for a moment, but then pick up the Oreos or tuna or whatever anyway. What can you do?
Well, CNNMoney offers one suggestion. While it may be impossible to avoid rising food prices, there are ways to make money from the price hikes. Namely: investing in agricultural stocks.