Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

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Another Google Buzz oversight?

Another Google Buzz oversight?

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A friend of mine sent me this image via TheDogHouseDiaries:

image

In case you don’t know what is going on, let me explain it in plain English:

  1. Google Buzz allows you to post something innocuous.
  2. Your Buzz followers (which I shall heretofore refer to as Buzzers) post comments responding to your initial post.
  3. You go back later and change what you said from something benign to something embarrassing.
  4. The end result is that to subsequent followers, it looks like the thing that your Buzzers are responding to are your revised post.

I remember on Internet discussion boards, new posts in a discussion thread would be inserted before old posts, rather than tacking them onto the end.  So it looked like this:

- [Frank] Hey, how’s it going?
-- [Craig] Fine, thanks.  And you?
--- [Frank] Pretty good.  Hey did you see that new movie Avatar?
---- [Craig] Yeah.  I really liked it a lot.
----- [Frank] The special effects were amazing.
------ [Craig] I agree.

Let’s suppose that Jimmy wants to get in on the conversation and responds to Frank’s last comment.  The thread looks like this:

- [Frank] Hey, how’s it going?
-- [Craig] Fine, thanks.  And you?
--- [Frank] Pretty good.  Hey did you see that new movie Avatar?
---- [Craig] Yeah.  I really liked it a lot.
----- [Frank] The special effects were amazing.
------ [Jimmy] Totally.  James Cameron’s $250 million budget paid off.
------ [Craig] I agree.


Jimmy’s post get top-posted before Craig’s comment because it is later in time.  This looks not too bad, but what if Jimmy was trying to be a douche?

- [Frank] Hey, how’s it going?
-- [Craig] Fine, thanks.  And you?
--- [Frank] Pretty good.  Hey did you see that new movie Avatar?
---- [Craig] Yeah.  I really liked it a lot.
----- [Frank] The special effects were amazing.
------ [Jimmy] What are you talking about?  That was the worst movie I’ve seen since Batman and Robin!
------ [Craig] I agree.


At first glance, it looks like Craig is agreeing with Jimmy’s comments, not Frank’s.  It’s a quick social engineering trick that could fool other people (either deliberately or not) into thinking that Craig is out of touch with reality (a lot like a certain other real life Craig that I know).  But if we use bottom posting:

- [Frank] Hey, how’s it going?
-- [Craig] Fine, thanks.  And you?
--- [Frank] Pretty good.  Hey did you see that new movie Avatar?
---- [Craig] Yeah.  I really liked it a lot.
----- [Frank] The special effects were amazing.
------ [Craig] I agree.
------ [Jimmy] What are you talking about?  That was the worst movie I’ve seen since Batman and Robin!

Here we can clearly see that Craig agrees with Frank, but Jimmy disagrees.

My whole point in all of this is that there are natural ways of posting things online and unnatural ways.  Some are better than others.  Giving people the option to go back and update their posts in order to make others look a little silly is… a little silly.

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  • This is something I didn't think about before. Very interesting. Although I agree that updating older posts is silly, I am also wondering who who do so, and with what purposes.

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