Remember when the internet was in its infancy? We all had to put up with little 468 x 90 banner ads everywhere you looked – and sometimes we clicked them because we didn’t know better.
As time went on we grew smarter, we were able to tell the bad adverts from the good, and the emergence of online advertising bumped the ugly out of the marketplace entirely. And now, our brains automatically blank out adverts to keep us focused on the content we went to the site in the first place for. Many of us use ad-blocking tools so our brains don’t even need to perform the mental airbrushing.
But what if those adverts were trying to tell us something really important?
What if the Emergency Broadcast System was hooked into those banner ads trying to give us forewarning of an avoidable cataclysm?
Social Engineering refers to psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information.
It is becoming increasingly common by malicious actors (bank and identity fraud, for example), but is also becoming a core part of many companies’ business models.
It all started innocently enough with the Social Graph. The ability to link people with other people, events, photos and products via rich, meaningful relationships turned the one-size-fits-all internet into a personalised window where the chaos suddenly started to shape itself into something we recognised and could engage with on a more emotional level.
So yesterday, Mark “FinkD” Zuckerberg’s little Californian social network called “Facebook” (you might have heard of it) announced a new feature called “Graph Search”. Graph Search lets you not only search for People and Pages, like the site currently allows, but also lets you throw much more complex queries at the Facebook database, such as “show me dentists in London recommended by my friends who live in Stockholm”. Or something less insane. But something is missing. Something absolutely HUGE: The Open Graph.
I’ve covered the Open Graph in a fewposts recently, it basically lets you integrate the things you specialise in with Facebook’s own specialisms (posts, relationship statuses, photos, events, etc.). Let’s say you’re a travel agent. You could create a “Holiday” object, which has information on it such as the departure and return dates, the destination (always useful to know), and maybe even the price. And then you “publish” this holiday into the Facebook graph by posting a link to a page on your local website which has the correct OpenGraph information in its header (the code behind that you don’t see, but your browser, and services like Facebook use to find out what your page is all about).
“Bob’s Holidays now offering a 2 week stay in Orlando, Florida for £300.”
Let’s say somebody likes this offer. And then somebody else comments on it. This object is now part of the social graph. People have become “connected” to this “holiday” object and through meaningful connections. To “like” something is very deliberate (and that is very valuable information to advertisers, which is why Facebook is such a potential gold mine for advertisers) and associates a user with an object.