For all the stories recently about Russia's use of Facebook, it was a story in Newsweek a few weeks ago about another social media site that first caught my interest. The site was LinkedIn, which surprised me since it seems the lesser of most social media sites. But what the story told was something else entirely.
LinkedIn tends to be used most as a professional service, and so people will list their resumes in order to drum up with. As a result, this gives a detailed profile of who people are, which makes them vulnerable to attack.
The article begins with a look at Alan Malcher, a British military veteran who along with other critics of Moscow participates in a LinkedIn group on international affairs. He tells of going to a pub one day and getting into a conversation with a stranger having a Slavic accent, strongly supporting the Putin regime. Malcher says that later on, this stranger let drop some information he knew about Malcher that could only have been gotten from the LinkedIn site. It was a very subtle way, he says, of the other man letting him know that we know who you are, so be careful.
At another point, the article explains in more detail. “The Russian special services are for sure exploiting LinkedIn to gather personal information on certain targets and possibly recruit and blackmail them,” says a close Kremlin watcher at a university in a former Soviet satellite state, asking for anonymity to protect himself. “They operate under fabricated identities and credentials, while the Russian propaganda and trolling campaigns are widely applied on the platform.”
There's the story, for instance, of Giles Raymond DeMourot, a former U.S. national security expert who had been rebutting Kremlin propaganda on LinkedIn. He tells of shortly thereafter -- in fact, a few days before Malcher had been approached in a pub -- getting "stung" by the prick of an umbrella and ending up in the hospital an hour later, "infected by a potential lethal 'superbug.'" He's had several treatments, and is still under observation, but doing better.
But then, perhaps it's all just the actions of a 400-pound man living in his parents' basement...
You can read the whole article here.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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