As I often do, I was sitting there watching Brothers and Sisters Sunday night, and it was getting to the best part (Sally Field's character was about to say something really, really important) when ABC interrupted the program with "Breaking News." I was so exasperated, because I was just sure it had something to do with local weather - we've had a lot of that lately.
Fortunately, the interruption turned out to be something that was WELL worth it - probably the best news we've had in a decade. Our U.S. Navy SEALs had found, located Osama bin Laden, and killed him - and they had his body, so there would be no doubt. The biggest enemy of the United States was dead. Woo-Hoo!
Now, when the "crowd goes wild," they do it online. Usually, people get on Twitter or Facebook or wherever, and post status updates about what they're watching on TV. I'm not sure why we do that, but it's fun. It's like having a giant "watch party" with, in this case, the whole world. Twitter's traffic hit a record.
Whenever something happens that gets a lot of web public attention there are opportunists. Some are relatively harmless, like the newspapers selling more copy of the historical moment, and T-Shirt sellers commemorating the event or honoring the SEALs.
Others, unfortunately, have more nefarious purposes. Mashable is reporting that the event has also been targeted by malware creators.
...New popular search terms like “Osama bin Laden death” are a vulnerable target in search engine rankings. Algorithms use historical data to help determine which sites are relevant to established search terms but have no such record to reference for a breaking news story.
Another malicious site, spotted by Zscaler, displays a photo that it claims to be the killed Osama bin Laden. Farther down the page, a message on a flash video player asks users to update a VLC plugin in order to view the footage. Those who click on the link, however, will download not a media player, but an adware tool known as hotbar...(more)
I've already seen a warning circulating in the Facebook status updates warning about a video that has been posted on the site, and is either a virus or phishing scam. Bottom line? Be as careful as you always are when seeking information and news about this event. Only click on urls to sites you recognize. Keep your virus and firewall protection updated, and don't open any suspicious e-mails.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.