JaseZone

First, apologies to the hundreds of people who have received emails seeming to come from me, inviting you to join something called JaseZone. Until I received your complaints, queries, and bouncebacks, I had no idea JaseZone existed. This episode has led to an interesting exchange with the company, though, and renewed fears that artificial Internet traffic may further cripple the real stuff. And I hate to think of people whose first contact with me or my work is a fake invitation to a social networking site.

I had a brief email exchange with JaseZone, who kindly removed my “user page” from their website. They said that they wouldn’t have created a user page for me without my permission, but also insist that their email verification would make it impossible for anyone else to have done this, and that it is impossible for their server to have been hacked (unlike every other server in the world). The only other possibility is that I have split personality, and did this without my knowledge.

But then, other somewhat prominent cyber-community people must have split personalities as well! On JaseZone I found pages for:
-Wired Founder Kevin Kelly,
-Berkeley researcher Danah Boyd
-Long Tail author Chris Anderson
-Harvard Business School guru Andrew McAfee
-Apple Founder Steve Jobbs

and so on.

Now, these aren’t fan pages at all – like the pages for William Burroughs on MySpace – but pages pretending to be created by the user in question as a way of developing his or her social network. We know this, because the pages invite others to the site by email, using the actual person’s email address in the replyto field.

The straightest inference to draw would be that JaseZone created these pages and invited people to the site using their names. But the people at JaseZone say they make no money off any of this, don’t create faker pages for users, and have no motive to do this. They are a small company that helps people with sports clubs. I’ve offered to help them figure out what happened by looking at the IP addresses of the page creators, or the email addresses that were used to verify them, but they insist that their site was not hacked and are quite miffed that I would even suggest such a thing.

So where do all these meticulously created profile pages come from? Your guess is as good as mine.

In the meantime, if you do get an email from me inviting you to JaseZone, sorry – but it ain’t me. If you get one from Steve Jobs, I suppose it’s real.

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