It also appears that the sheer number of fake tech goods is on the rise. US Customs officials report a 34 percent increase in fake goods seized as they come flooding into this country.
The usefulness of services like Yelp and the "reviews" for businesses on Google Maps may be increasingly compromised by fake reviews.
"PR and advertising agencies," according to one recent post, hire people to write "favorable reviews" to boost client sales. (This may be another example of China's influence spreading worldwide. Now American marketers are raising their own "50 Cent Armies.")
Cornell University researchers are even working on software algorithms to spot phony reviews.
As security researchers find more ways to thwart more traditional methods of hacking and online fraud, the unscrupulous increasingly rely on phishing attacks. These often involve either fake news stories based on real events, or fake web sites and services masquerading as the real thing.
One recent example is a pitch for a fake player for Adobe Flash for Mac OS X that circulated online. When users clicked on it to get the player, they launched the installation of Trojan software while an authentic-looking but phony web page is displayed.
Another is the spread of fake news stories on current events, such as news about Amy Winehouse or the Norway attacks.
A recent FCC report found that the "gap" between advertised broadband speeds promised by ISPs and the actual speeds experienced by customers is narrowing. Now, DSL customers are getting 82 percent of what they pay for and cable customers 93 percent during peak hours.
While customers are still being lied to, the situation has improved since 2009, when measured performance was closer to 50 percent of speeds advertised.
We’re supposed to be grateful.
Google has been lauded for its successful launch of the Google+ "project," but also pilloried by the tech press for mishandling its "real names" policy. Google insists that people not use titles ("Doctor Doolittle"), pseudonyms, or other alternatives to given names on the social network.
The trouble with Google's current policy is that it will lead to more lying and fakery. I could clear my browser cache right now, re-load Google+ and set up an account with the name "Jim Jones." Google would never know, and neither would you.
Some people want to use names other than the ones their parents gave them at birth for a very long list of legitimate and illegitimate reasons. What Google should do is to allow pseudonyms, but then require disclosure of the fact ("This name is a pseudonym.").
People will use fake names on Google+. The only question is will Google's policy lets others know they're fake, or will it drive that fact underground? Allowing pseudonyms but requiring disclosure of that fact would be one small victory in the fight against fakeness online.
Meanwhile, we’ve got larger issues to deal with. The world of technology is increasingly fake. Liars are becoming more brazen. The press is getting lazier. The public is becoming more gullible and accepting of fraud and counterfeiting.
If we don’t get skeptical and more intolerant of fake tech, we may find ourselves in an economy where it seems that nothing is real and nobody can be trusted.
Let’s not accept fake tech anything. Let’s demand skepticism from the media. Let’s require online transparency from politicians. Let’s reject counterfeit products and stolen branding. And let’s seek out any company, organization or individual that deliberately misleads us and shame them in the public square.
It’s time to start demanding reality, authenticity and honesty in technology -- before it becomes rare.
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