Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Dark Side of Twitter and Social Networking

Perry Belcher's bio on Twitter reads "Perry Belcher - Seriously Bad Ass Marketer & Neurological Copywriter With a Gift From God." In reality, he is a confessed felon with a ten year suspended sentence, an Internet con artist who the courts have forced to pay $1 million in restitution to his victims. The scam Perry Belcher has been convicted of (so far) involved preying upon seriously ill people desperate for medical cures, but the "miracle products" he sent them in exchange for their hard earned money were ordinary household herbs such as oregano or chili pepper. Perry Belcher is one of the worst of that new breed calling itself "Internet marketer", in his case the 21st century equivalent of an old-time snake oil salesman.

You can read details about Perry Belcher's arrest and conviction here (three, quite unbiased articles I must say, considering the serious nature of his crimes): 1) 2) 3)

As of this writing, Perry Belcher has nearly 37,000 followers on Twitter, and this means that he can send direct, one-to-one messages (or DMs on Twitter) to each and every one of them. I was briefly one of these unsuspecting dupes, not having researched Perry's background thoroughly before I followed him on the "advice" of which listed him as one of the top 100 "Twitter Elite", and as such someone worthy of my respect and admiration. I have since contacted the Twitter user responsible for this terrible oversight of listing a felon among members of that exalted rank. Unfortunately nothing has been done about it, which is the main reason I've written this post, in order to warn an otherwise unsuspecting public, because I seriously doubt that Perry Belcher would have anywhere near 37,000 followers on Twitter if most people really knew the truth about him.

Everyone who is a Twitter user and reads this (even if you are NOT following Perry Belcher) should immediately consider taking the following, simple action as I did, in order to protect youself. While logged in to your Twitter account, visit and on the right hand side of the page under "Actions" press the link that says "block" by the username perrybelcher. Wait for the next page to load, where you will be asked to confirm the action and make sure that you do so. That's it. Now Perry Belcher and other criminals who work with him (and I suspect their number is growing, based on veiled threats I've already received for exposing him) cannot send you direct messages or easily read your Twitter stream from his account, in order to try to "get to know you" and fleece you out of your money or worse. An added benefit is that you will no longer be exposed to Perry Belcher's constant, inane drivel in your own Twitter stream, either.

Now if you still decide to start following or continue to follow Perry Belcher on Twitter, at least you've been warned. But this whole affair points out the dark side of Twitter and social networking in general. We all need to be more vigilant about who we decide to be "friends" with on this and other social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. The price for not doing so can be your wallet with less money in it, while a criminal like Perry Belcher is laughing all the way to the bank.

Please help me protect others like yourself by sending them a link to this post, or at least by warning them about the presence of criminals like Perry Belcher on Twitter. Thanks.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Twitter on Twitter

As my community has grown to nearly 10,000 contacts, almost all of them mutual (I follow them / they follow me), I've become accustomed to posing questions and receiving almost instantaneous feedback from many different people all over the world. It recently occurred to me that these questions and answers might be useful and interesting to a wider audience, so I've decided to post them here on this blog from time to time.

To provide a kind of introductory post, I asked my Twitter community the following question:

"What's the best thing that's happened to you as a result of your being here on Twitter? And could it have happened just as easily elsewhere?"

Here are the responses I received:

"I stopped nagging at my hubby for being on Twitter. Decided to join in on the fun instead. So, no probably couldn´t happen elsewh"

"I have met some absolutely incredible, totally amazing folks here on Twitter - Happen elsewhere? Possible, but I doubt it :)"

"I could never have met all the tweeple I've met here! There's no way I would've reached that many in so many places!"

"- great thing about Twitter - hundreds of real connections have been awesome - and helping each other out - give, give, give"

"meeting like minded bloggers. Yes; could have happened elsewhere but Twitter made it easier."

"Hard to imagine running across someone from Prague here in Tomball, TX otherwise, Bob! I love the worldwide range here."

"The best thing about being on Twitter is getting some great insights for my biz fast. It would take longer outside it."

"great question - I've met some really interesting people whom I might not have noticed on other social networking sites"

"I met @barefoot_exec and decided to join her incredible mastermind group. I have met some amazing people thanks to Twitter!"

"Meeting up in real life with tweeples I'd never meet otherwise ... enriching friendship."

"Here's my "best thing that's happened to me on Twitter"... . I'd love to hear others' stories."

"I've had some amazing Twitter stories, but my SanDisk story is the biggest. Just posted on @chrisbrogan's blog:"

"Oops I missed the question. For me I might find my Girl Friend in here someday, I am trying hard.. lol"

"No single thing, but lots and lots of small epiphanies over a very short period of time. Twitter = knowledge accelerator for me."

"Best twitter monent(s) - Learning new things about space, interacting with ppl I read/listen to."

"The people! That's the best part of Twitter"

"Best about Twitter: Meeting & networking with twitter colleagues around the world."

"what ever it is be assured it would have happened MUCH slower................."

"Hello. Best experience has been (virtually) meeting (genuinely) friendly, helpful , generous people. And the random tourettes bol"

"one more place for my like-minded psych and tech folks to hang out!"

For me, Twitter is a giant Rolodex full of interesting people I can call on for help and advice anytime of the day or night, engage in lively and insightful discussions, or just hang out with.

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