The world is teeming with cyber crooks
23 January 2020
TUMBY BAY - My next door neighbour and his wife are in their eighties. He’s a tough old cereal farmer and she’s a retired hospital matron. They are trying to live out their twilight years as happily as possible.
Not a week goes by, however, that they don’t come over to ask me about a concerning telephone call they’ve had or a strange email they’ve received.
These invariably turn out to be scams of one sort or another. This afternoon it was a telephone call telling them that their home phone was about to be cut off.
As you can imagine these things cause them a great deal of anxiety. They both have health problems and they rely on their telephone in case there is an emergency.
After I had reassured them it was just a scam, it occurred to me just how much technology has enlivened and facilitated the lowest of low life in the world.
Social media, in particular, has highlighted just how many crooks and carpetbaggers there are out there.
Sometimes social media warns us about this stuff and at other times it acts as part of it. It’s very confusing because you don’t know who to trust.
Have these low lifes always been there and it’s just technology that has exposed them or are they actually products of that technology?
It’s an interesting question because if they have always been there it’s a poor reflection on humanity. If they are a new phenomenon what does it say about the moralities of technology and social media?
The recent bushfires in Australia seems to have emboldened some of the worst characters out there in the cyber-criminal world.
They are using, for instance, the names of people who have lost everything in the fires to set up fake charities, the proceeds of which they then steal. That is even lower than the looters who have been caught going through deserted buildings stealing people’s possessions.
They are not the only technological lowlife around though. The corporate world has its fair share of unsavoury creeps too. The recent banking royal commission has made this patently clear.
Automatically taking fees out of people’s bank accounts for services knowingly not provided is just one example. Goodness knows what else they and their technological equivalents in other industries have been doing over the years.
It is a world-wide phenomenon. Those who control the technologies and the social media platforms are using them to perpetuate despicable schemes. In the process they are reaping obscene profits.
And that is the end game of course. Follow any shonky deal to its logical end and you’ll find the culprits rolling around in their pits of money.
Our politicians are good at it too. Our delightful government in Australia has been using social media to claim party political kudos for rendering aid to fire and drought stricken families and businesses.
We don’t know who the sick puppy was who thought that one up but everyone has their suspicions.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump is using social media to publish lies and deceits to the world with apparent impunity.
That the leader of the most powerful nation in the world plays out his fairy tales on Twitter has to be reason for great concern. But apparently not. Social media and bullshit, it seems, are made for each other.
That, of course, begs the question, what is the difference between the low life that is the president of the United States and the low life harassing my next door neighbours?
Very little I would suggest.
The sad fact is that what could be incredibly beneficial technological advances for humankind is being subverted by greed.
I was going to say it’s the usual few bad apples that are spoiling it for everyone else but that’s not true, is it?
Its lots of bad apples spoiling it for everyone else, including for my elderly and vulnerable neighbours.
And to make it worse, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to spot the outwardly healthy apples that are really rotten inside.
The following link provides access to a critique of ScoMo:
Irrespective of the commodity a salesman is a salesman is a salesman, and the Australian PM actually talks through his back teeth whenever he is interviewed.
Posted by: Bernard Corden | 23 January 2020 at 12:00 PM
I don't know where I heard it, but I think it was Rupert Murdoch who once said that he didn't care what he published in his newspapers as long as they sold well.
He went on to explain that he was happy to publish views that didn't conform to his own because people would buy his newspapers and read them.
He seems to have reconsidered this view and now only publishes right wing propaganda.
The quote was "As long as it's making money I don't care." It dates back to the 1980s when Murdoch was just infiltrating the US market with the purchase of the New York-based The Village Voice - KJ
His expansion into media and digitised newspapers obviously provides enough revenue to forsake presenting the other side of any story.
Posted by: Philip Fitzpatrick | 23 January 2020 at 11:09 AM
Mobile phones and antisocial media platforms were designed to increase conflict and generate revenue and they work extremely well.
Posted by: Bernard Corden | 23 January 2020 at 09:56 AM
The emergence of a cyber world has had many effects, some of which Phil has mentioned.
The most pernicious and dangerous effect has not been the proliferation of cyber crime but the related erosion of public trust in institutions that were once regarded as inherently worthy of trust.
An example in Australia is the revelations of the Royal Commission Into Banking which have been deeply destructive of public faith in the basic honesty and integrity of institutions that are critical to the functioning of the economy and society as a whole.
Papua New Guineans are all too painfully aware of how politicians can now use social media to bypass the journalists and expert commentators who can decode their messages to reveal the exaggerations, omissions, distortions, half truths and outright bullshit or lies than so often underpin political utterances.
Trump can get away with what he does (which, sometimes, is obviously criminal conduct), partly at least, because the public now actually expect politicians to behave as he does and partly because many of us have grown so weary of the egregious bullshit spouted by the political class that we have basically stopped listening.
It is easier to assume they are lying than bother trying to parse and study every utterance in a vain attempt to glean what little truth it may hold.
All of this bodes ill for the future unless we can figure out how to manage the new technologies we have invented so that they work for the common good, not provide a perfect platform for the crooks, liars, cheats and frauds who abound amongst us.
In relation to the political classes, PNG's current crop appear to be trying to operate in a more transparent and honest way but whether this actually is true remains an open question for now.
Posted by: Chris Overland | 23 January 2020 at 09:43 AM