Don’t Believe Everything You Read on Facebook

Our parents used to tell us “don’t believe everything you see on TV.” Their parents told them, “don’t believe everything you read.” Has the time come to warn our kids about the dangers of believing every Facebook update they encounter? Sadly, the answer appears to be yes…and it’s not just kids who are the gullible ones, we are too!

Not everything that grows on Facebook is so pleasant. Photo credit: mkhmarketing
Not everything that grows on Facebook is so pleasant. Photo credit: mkhmarketing

In fact, according to a recent survey, a majority of Americans now view search engines (something Facebook aspires to be) as a more credible source of news than actual news sites. This might be considered disturbing for a number of reasons, not least of which involves the “right to forget” controversy impacting Google in Europe.

On the bright side, it seems like news aggregators such as Facebook are taking their newfound powers seriously, by adjusting their algorithms to root out news sources of questionable quality, as well as outright hoaxers.

Gawker offered up a comprehensive article outlining some of the worst offenders. These are sites that rely on click bait from controversial and often straight-up false headlines to drive surges of traffic to their sites. While Facebook can be applauded for improving the aggregation of their news content, it’s good to keep in mind this won’t solve everything.

Here are additional ways you can get tripped up by fake Facebook news:

1. Uncle Bob’s impassioned theories about the IRS/vaccines/other

We all have a friend or family member with “out there” views that we have either hidden from our news feed or keep on it just to laugh at.

Keep in mind that all 450 of your friends also have an Uncle Bob connected to them, and not everyone agrees on the definition of “crazy.”

Many people on your news feed and connected to it will think nothing of sharing and promoting opinions as fact. Before you click the share button…investigate and verify.

2. Satirical Articles

Satire can be hilarious and brilliant, but when casually scanning your Facebook feed it can be easy to get caught up by sources other than The Onion.

Many serious news sites like the New Yorker and New York Times utilize comic writers and satirists and will promote their work on Facebook. Before you share a “news item” make sure it’s real or soon you will be the butt of jokes among your Facebook friends.

3. Scams

More concerning than your crazy uncle or taking a satirical article seriously is falling for one of the multitude of scams that live on Facebook.

From “viral video” links that load malware on your hard drive to a new “free giveaway” that tricks you into giving up your personal information to hackers, there are many ways to get ripped on Facebook from seemingly innocuous information.

Kim Komando has a good roundup of the methods scammers use to separate users from their money.

As social media becomes an increasingly normal part of life for people of all ages, it’s good to be conscious of the fact that misinformation that used to spread by TV, radio and phone will all find a natural home on social media platforms like Facebook. Use common sense, your intuition and verify the information before you trust it.

Tinder Charges Older Users Extra For Premium Access

 

Question: What’s more difficult than kissing your carefree twenties goodbye?

Answer: The realization that with your 30th birthday, Tinder will charge you twice as much to access its Tinder Plus premium service.

Tinder 3-3-15
Your Tinder Plus dates will be more expensive if you’re 30 and up. Photo credit: Chris Goldberg

What will Tinder Plus offer?

For starters, the much coveted ability to “reverse swipe,” which allows users to reconsider potential dates they have rejected. This will be a clutch added feature for those particularly desperate nights when users find new matches unavailable or unwilling. Additionally, Tinder Plus features Passport, the ability to browse users in different locations.

Unfortunately, if you’re 30 and older and want to enjoy these amazing benefits, you’ll need to pony up $20 per month, compared to just $10 per month for those 29 and under.

A spokesperson for Tinder defended the pricing structure by pointing to the harsh economic realities facing younger users, who have less pocket money to spend despite the fact that they all share each other’s Netflix and HBO Go passwords.

While the bold pricing move may surprise some, those familiar with our coverage of Tinder before shouldn’t be too shocked. Tinder’s success and fame is largely down to its popularity with younger users and its success at inserting itself into youth pop culture has been impressive.

In fact, as we have previously noted, the fastest growing age segment on Tinder is aged 13-17, registering 7% of total users according to Tinder’s CEO earlier this year. Far from viewing this as a problem for a site known for encouraging promiscuous hookups, Tinder’s business strategy likely involves growing their younger user base.

As Snapchat’s recent valuation has demonstrated, capturing younger users’ attentions and holding them long enough for advertisers to inject their products into their consciousness is a golden ticket for many of the new school of social networking and dating apps.

Ironically, for those apps like Tinder that have built their infrastructure around Facebook, the latter’s aging demographics may be a hindrance to staying top of mind with college-aged kids and twenty-somethings.

Hence we have the first of what may be many moves like it to continue to prioritize and incentivize younger users at the expense of us old fogies.

Perhaps, though, this is a blessing in disguise for older, more serious online daters as the platform’s suitability for delivering high quality matches is questionable at best. When polled, 64% of Tinder users viewed the app as “a game to play with” rather than a serious dating site.

Combined with its growing number of younger teenage users, perhaps the mature crowd is better spending its money elsewhere.

What’s hiding in your background check?

 

A common use of BeenVerified.com’s background check service is the self-check. Sometimes concerned, but often just curious people will “BeenVerify” themselves to know what’s out there. Just as your doctor recommends self-examinations to monitor your physical health, so should you monitor and be aware of your online reputation. Simply put, you should know what’s in your public record.

SLC Minilypse-City Library

We’ll take a closer look at some of the following items that may show up in your own public record in future blog posts and what, if any, response might be appropriate. Here are some things you might find in your search:

1. Current and Historical Addresses  BeenVerified.com is a popular destination for those looking to update their address books. Make sure your current residence is accurately listed in case old friends want to get back in touch. If you’re a homeowner, you may want to ensure your home’s vital statistics are listed accurately to ensure the correct value.

2. Criminal Records  We’ve covered how to interpret and understand criminal records in detail in the past. If you have a criminal record, there are ways to present yourself in the best possible light as we will examine in a future post. And remember, employers are barred from using BeenVerified to screen for employment or tenancy by the Fair Credit and Reporting Act (FCRA).

3. Bankruptcies, tax liens and civil judgments All three of these events can appear in your public record. It’s important these events are updated to reflect current realities of your situation. For example, an unpaid tax lien can appear on your public record for ten years after the fact and affect credit decisions for years later. If there is an inaccuracy in your public record, then you should dispute it and get it corrected.

4. Social media accounts  You may not be overly concerned if your primary social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter show up as part of your public record, as they are usually intentionally left public. But what about that old MySpace or LiveJournal account? You may decide after running a self-check that it’s time to do a social media account clean up. We’ll go into detail on some of the best ways to do that in a future post.

5. Incomplete Information  Public records do not come from one data source but disparate sources across the country from different states and municipalities. If you can’t find something you’re looking for, it may because it’s not yet been digitised. In that case, you may be interested in learning more about BeenVerified’s court runner service.

Don’t stay curious–run a background check on yourself  now with BeenVerified.com and take action if needed.

If you’ve run a check on yourself and have questions let us know in the comments section below.

Data Science Goes Mainstream With White House Appointment

 

Last week, President Obama appointed the nation’s first chief data scientist, Dr. DJ Patil.

Dr. Patil was instrumental in developing the field and famously called data science “the sexiest job of the 21st century.” In fact, Patil is credited with creating the term “data scientist” in the first place.

The word everyone is focused on these days. Photo credit: justgrimes
The word everyone is focused on these days. Photo credit: justgrimes

Highlighted below are some resources to catch you up on the career of the nation’s first Chief Data Scientist and why data science is gaining so much attention with businesses and governments worldwide.

And don’t forget, if you have a strong data science background, BeenVerified is looking for a data scientist of our own. Check out the details of the position on our careers page if you’re interested.

Here’s a summary of the key announcements and background behind the naming of DJ Patil as Chief Data Scientist and what he will focus on while holding the office.

The White House Names Dr. DJ Patil as the First U.S. Chief Data Scientist

A Memo to the American People from U.S. Chief Data Scientist Dr. DJ Patil

Fast Company profile on the rise of DJ Patil from 2012.

Five Great Reasons to Avoid Answering That Call

 

We all receive phone calls from unusual numbers, sometimes multiple times per day. Often they come from telltale 800 or 888 numbers, but there are also myriad out of town area codes. Is it your old college buddy Bill from Charlotte who just got a new phone or a robotic voice offering you a discount on mattresses?

Think twice before answering that call from an unknown number. Photo credit: Garry Knight
Think twice before answering that call from an unknown number. Photo credit: Garry Knight

It often feels like more of a hassle these days to answer your phone than it is letting it go to voicemail or risking missing an important call. Yet the temptation to answer can be strong, especially if you’re in a situation, business or otherwise where you could be expecting a call from a number you don’t recognize.

Here are five types of calls where it pays to know where the number is calling from and whom it belongs to before you pick up.

The ex with the new number

You’ve done your best to block contact with your unstable ex, filtered his emails and blocked his number (or changed his name in your address book to DO NOT ANSWER). But exes can be persistent and if they sniff out that they’re being ignored, calling from an unknown number to get you to answer is often an effective tactic.

The debt collector looking for your number’s previous owner

“Hi, is this Maya?” These types of calls often come in spurts and are extremely annoying to field, usually the result of the person who last had your number not keeping up with their bills.

The irrelevant sales call

Bad news: the used car dealership sold your information to a hundred other vendors and now they’re all calling you to offer everything from driveway repairs to gutter cleanings. In addition to being annoying, they’re irrelevant because you live in an apartment building.

The time consuming survey

Surveys can often be sales calls in disguise. In any case you probably have better things to do than answer a bunch of random questions for a total stranger over the phone.

The scam artist

Most worryingly of all, unknown incoming calls can also be from scammers trying to talk their way into your wallet. A recent scam affecting the Pittsburgh area involved con artists impersonating IRS agents trying to collect on phony back taxes.

As you can see, there are a number of reasons to avoid answering your phone right away these days. Take precautions to know who is calling you before you jump on the phone with them and save yourself a potential headache.

What’s the one phone call you wish you didn’t answer? Let us know in the comments.

“Coffee Meets Bagel” Meets Big Money

You might remember the three impressive sisters from a recent episode of Shark Tank who turned down what seemed like an amazing $30 million offer from Mark Cuban for their dating platform Coffee Meets Bagel. I must admit, I thought they were over-confident (OK, crazy!) to turn down such a deal, but today comes news that their independent vision has been at least partly validated by raising $7.8 million in a fresh round of funding.

Everyone likes coffee and bagels, right? Photo credit: John Watson
Everyone likes coffee and bagels, right? Photo credit: John Watson

At the time the sisters rejected Cuban’s offer, one retorted that they see their business growing “as big as Match.com.” In fact, the sisters have already raised nearly $3 million from Match.com’s founder who clearly sees the promise in the approach.

Whether that’s possible is still an open question, considering that Coffee Meets Bagel’s online dating system is more than just a twist on current online dating models; it looks to totally modify online daters’ behaviors by limiting matches to just one per day.

How does Coffee Meet Bagel work in detail?

The site is betting big on its ability to make quality matches based on use of your own social network. Like we wrote of SparkStarter before it, Coffee Meets Bagel uses your social network as a means of validating matches, giving users tired of Tinder and OKCupid’s less filtered approach of allowing any user to contact any other user.

Here’s the kicker: Coffee Meets Bagel sends one match per 24 hour period and only allows contact between the two users if both signal mutual interest. Obviously, it’s a much more considered, and some would say, limiting, approach to online dating. The concept is designed to mimic a “flash sale” which has become popular with indie e-commerce shops.

While Coffee Meets Bagel’s early success looks promising for its future, it’s hard to see it becoming truly mainstream service except for those that burn out of the most popular dating sites. Tinder’s wild popularity is driven as much by its game-like properties than its ability to find a truly compatible match.

And as we’ve argued before, the perceived validation of a potential match coming from your social network is only that: a perception.

Until then we can only speculate if the sisters would have been better off with Mark’s millions.

You can read more about Coffee Meets Bagel and watch their original Shark Tank segment over at Entrepreneur.