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Evan Schuman: Hijacked by social media

Evan Schuman | Jan. 22, 2014
Why would anyone be comfortable with social networking sites sending out messages in their name?

It isn't that hard to imagine. Say that you're an executive entering into highly sensitive negotiations with Apple. The Apple executives that you're dealing with are now in your email contacts list. Eagle-eyed Google spots them and sends them an invitation in your name to join you on Google+. The Apple executives are less than thrilled to see you mentioning Google, much less endorsing it. At your next meeting, things are awkward, and you're not sure why.

How about this possibility? You've applied for an IT job at Dunkin' Donuts headquarters. Because you entered into an obscure agreement during a Starbucks promotion, that company is able to send out a tweet in your name extolling its coffee. Now, why haven't you heard back from Dunkin' Donuts? you wonder. The interview seemed to go great.

Or let's say that the social site's automated email software has a glitch — it could happen, right? Because of the glitch, not one message goes out to everyone on your list, but 1,000. You're suddenly shunned as a spammer.

This is the thing: If you allow an automated script to do anything under your name, you're asking for it.

Many executives are leary of letting 21-year-old interns interact with clients via email. So why in the world should they trust a software program controlled by the marketers at a large social networking site to do it? They shouldn't, of course, and neither should you. Do what you must to make sure that every message with your name on it is actually from you.


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