To Click Or Not To Click, That Is The Hack ~ The Perils Of Facebook Ads, Online Research And Shopping

In the series of Heirs And Heirlooms Hints and Helps, I am always reminding myself to be careful about what I click on. Just recently I got an email from a person whose genealogy research overlaps with mine, and in my excitement I clicked right through to a nasty fake. It took time to change passwords that were affected and notify folks. Online research might be wonderful and convenient, but much of the research must still be done in the field.

It is getting harder to find people on Facebook and then verify who they and their families are. More people today have their “friends” hidden, and many even have settings so that their name won’t appear in a Facebook search. But not everybody quite yet. With so many people finding each other again, and finding each other for the first time, more people are on Facebook than ever before. And they are vulnerable to the perils of Fake sellers and fake people.

Learning how to tell what is and is not real on Facebook is important, and the ‘blue dot’ tag and verification for companies, pages and sellers is a brilliant clue to look for.

When you are scrolling through your Facebook page, we are inundated with ads. I have been bitten by the fly-by-night companies that use fake photos to entice buyers, but then when the item arrives, it is not what you were expecting at all.

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The blouse on the left is what I ordered, the blouse on the right is what I got. Even Paypal was no help. The company said send it back, but was not going to pay for the shipping. I contacted Paypal by phone, I was offered a refund of shipping once I gave them the tracking number. But by the time I could package the shirt and prepare to go to the post office, i got another email/message from Paypal saying they would NOT pay for the return shipping for this. I never would have thought Paypal would do this – even they are not what they used to be.

The one help that Facebook has begun offering is this  ‘blue dot’ for verification. I run my cursor over the name of the company and the company’s logo will pop up (on a phone you have to open the page); if the blue dot is there, then I know the page is really the politician, really the musician, really the company I want. 

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When a person or company completes a registration of their page and verifies who they are (hopefully) then Facebook gives the page a tiny blue dot with a white check inside. This signifies a real page, a real company, a real person.

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On a cell phone you will need to touch the name and open the page to see if it is a real page for a real company that took the time to verify their information.

The cautions for fake people are more difficult. In searching for people on Facebook you can get a fake person. I have one cousin who has three pages. Whether forgetting passwords or just frustrated, she just makes a new page when she can’t figure it out and all the pages are in fact her.

But ID hackers make a fake page of just ordinary people – folks like you and me, and you do not want to friend a fake person.

Using Facebook to find people is still possible but you must remember that most names are common. No matter how unusual you might think a name is, there will usually — in a fact almost always — be multiple people with that name. If a person has hidden the names of their friends – which they SHOULD DO – then you cannot use qualifiers to verify you have the right person.

If the person still has their friends visible then you can look through their friends list for connections that would indicate you have found the right person with that name.

If you are looking for Jane Smith whose maiden name is Williams, then you can search the friends list. These are common names, and if a person has a lot of friends you might find people who look right even if it is not the right person. But if you also know – for instance from an obituary – that Jane’s sister, Jill, married a Lewis, then you can work with multiple checks  to find who you are looking for.

But we must be aware that more and more fakes of every kind are turning up on Facebook every day. The blue dot is but one way to help make sure you stay on real pages for real companies and people.

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And for Twitter you can see the similar blue dot by the name of our great Neil deGrasse Tyson. I know I am really following him and the posts are really coming from him.

The white i Info Dot


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On many Facebook posts you will now see a tiny letter – i – in a little white dot, at the lower right side of a post’s photo. You can click the little i for any information they might have about the website. 


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Once you click the tiny i in the little white dot at the lower right of a post’s picture, you will get information that they know about the website.

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