May 15, 2017
I’m a well-connected guy (apparently). I only have 1685 “friends” onFacebook (I have a FB page, but it’s my social media version of a timeshare: I pay the annual dues, but I never visit). LinkedIn is higher in my SM world: over 5300 “connections,” but I’m a LI deadbeat (I build my network, but do little/nothing to “service” them), and ought to be voted off the LinkedIn Island…
About 10 days ago, I started getting texts from some of my real friends (people I really know, but are in my FB roster as well). Their message to me: “I think you’ve been hacked…”
It seems that I was sending them messages – via Facebook – regarding my good fortune, and their amazing opportunity. My “good fortune?” Little did I know that I had been chosen by a Nigerian prince to be his agent-of-record to move massive sums of money out of Nigeria and into America. In return for my willingness to help them with the fund transfer, my commission was going to be an immense payday.
And, I was willing to share my great fortune with my Facebook friends! In fact, I was saving a chunk of the treasure for them. All they had to do was reply, and we would put this great opportunity in motion…
My friends – at least, the ones who texted me! – aren’t fools. They knew me, and they knew the Nigerian scam… and they came in my back door (a text to my mobile) to warn me.
Grab a photo of someone on the internet (like me); use it to open a new Facebook account in Great Britain, in the name of the person in the photo (in this case, me). And, then: use Facebook’s ‘People You May Know’ feed and scoop up all of his FB friends. Last, send them all the Nigerian scam, and wait for the fish to take the bait. Did you, by chance, get any funny messages from Bob Shank about 10 days ago?
My new discovery: it takes more to defeat a hacker than it takes to be one. With Facebook, I had to prove I was me before I could get them to eliminate someone claiming to be me. I satisfied their validation criterion – proving that this Bob Shank is the one who matches the photo – so that the Bob-in-England version of me would be silenced. Let me know if you hear from me, in the future, about any too-good-to-be-true opportunities…
This isn’t a new problem, apparently.
When Jesus visited this planet – on his missions trip from heaven – he gave us some insight about the scams that would make it all the way to the threshold of Eternity. Here’s what he warned: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
The counterfeit version of conversion makes a mockery of the ministry modeled by Jesus. He was known for his messages, his power over evil, and his ability to do the impossible. Wouldn’t someone who does those same things be able to claim that they were associated with the Savior?
Facebook used a scan of my passport to confirm my validity; Jesus uses motives to filter the faithful: “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.” (John 7:16-18)
Assumption based on face value is dangerous; false identities run rampant, all the way to heaven’s gate. The tough question, for us all: are we really who we claim to be?