July 7, 2011 at 4:03 PM ET
Less than 24 hours after Mark Zuckerberg's "Awesome!" announcement — getting Skype all up in your Facebook — and we already know the many ways it may destroy your life, or worse, the life of your children! Won't somebody please think of the children?!
From Facebook scams evolving into the video ripoff realm and humilating new ways to get yourself Facebook fired, to the possibility of preteens video sexting, there's plenty of speculation on how video calling right from your Facebook account could be bad bad bad!
Same old Facebook scams, new venue!
Agreed, nobody should have to tell you not to wire $1,000 to "friends" who contact you over the Internet, claiming to be trapped in a foreign country with no money or passport. Then again, nobody should have to tell you not to click on that Facebook link to a video that allegedly shows Justin Bieber punching a girl in the face. But if you've ever had your Facebook wall junked up with such spam scams, you know plenty of people do.
"Don't let your guard down just because you're video calling directly from Facebook, where you're used to having fun," writes Paul Ducklin on the Sophos blog Naked Security. "In particular, review who your friends are. And watch out for calls from hijacked accounts, or from borderline 'friends,' just as you ought to do via any other messaging service, including email."
Ducklin predicts Stranded in [Foreign Location] and Fake Support Call scams will transfer nicely to this new Facebook service. Fuzzy videos with poor sound quality fit the drama of an unlucky friend or relative trapped overseas. And anyone who has trouble connecting with Facebook and Skype might not be surprised to receive a call from a Facebook or Skype "representative" calling from "the hacked account of a friend — unusual, of course, but this is an emergency! — to advise all the friends of that friend that they, too, may be compromised." For $300, the rep will quickly make your problems go away!
What about the children?!
"In a time when sexting has become almost a prerequisite in teen dating, this easily available video integration is only going to cause more problems," writes Danielle Sullivan on the Babble blog Strollerderby. True, video chat has long been available outside of Facebook, but it's the new proximity Sullivan finds problematic. "Preteens and teens go on Facebook everyday and chat through text now daily, recapping their day, making plans, or just killing time. The video chats will no doubt be widely popular among teens, which means all these kids on video chat in their rooms, often late at night. It’s a recipe for disaster."
While it's arguable just how detrimental sexting is to curious teenagers, Sullivan does have a point. Kids do lie about their age when registering on Facebook to get past the 13-year-old minimum age requirement, and plenty of parents are cool with that. And Chatroulette isn't the only place kids have been flashed by exhibitionist adults. SafetyWeb weaves a tale of Skype terror that occurred just last year:
September 1st marked the first day of school for a 10-year-old girl in Lake Forest, Illinois. That evening, she used Skype, a free video chat and instant messaging service, to talk to her friends about their first day and discuss homework assignments. Everything was going great until an unfamiliar screen name popped up and requested to chat with the girl. Thinking it was a neighborhood friend, she accepted the request, and what she saw next was extremely shocking.
The video revealed a naked, middle-aged man inappropriately touching himself and sending tasteless messages. The girl screamed for her mother who quickly notified the police. The incident is currently under investigation, and highlights how truly dangerous the Internet can be. As parents, we must continue to make online safety a priority, and do our best to keep our children out of harm’s way.
SafetyWeb's tips for Skype safety transfer easily to any aspect of the Web, so check 'em out.
A new way to get yourself Facebook fired!
You have an imagination. Think about it. "The way I see it there are two audiences for video chat," writes PC Magazine's Dan Costa. "One is family members that want to see their kids."
Now here's the sticky part.
"The other audience is the Chatroulette crowd," Costa writes. "I apologize if this shocks you, gentle reader, but people have been sharing naked pictures long before Congressman Anthony Weiner bought his first BlackBerry Curve. (Or was that a Bold?) Indeed compared to the sewer streams of pornography that flood out onto the Net each day, a one-on-one video chat between two consenting adults seems positively quaint. Although even here, I think the appeal is limited. Who wants to exchange sexy videos when your mom's thumbnail is in the same Window. Not me."
Me neither. But somebody does. And if that somebody is you, just don't do it at work.
More on the annoying way we live now: