Social Networks are a very popular pastime for a majority of the people on the Internet. The biggest Social Networks are Facebook and Twitter, and since they are so popular they are also prone to many scams, spam and malicious content.
It is important to keep up to date with the latest scams going around on these Social Networks, but many people do not bother and blindly rely on their own PC security applications to spot scams. No system is 100%, and WOT (Web of Trust) is certainly a good addition and another layer to help protect your personal data, avoid scams, and surf even safer.
Social WOT – What is it?
I have been lucky enough to be given access to the latest version of the WOT plugin which is currently in BETA testing, and is designed to integrate better with sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and URL shorterning services. As it is in Beta stage, the developers will be testing out the plugin for any bugs that may exist, once the plugin has passed various tests, it will be released as an update to the plugin for everyone to benefit.
For those that do not know what WOT is, it is a free plugin for your browser which gives a small visual warning over a sites safety and trustworthiness, based on ratings by the WOT community (example below). You may have seen these warnings on this site for all our external links, a small coloured circle (or donut).
- Red = Untrusted
- Yellow = Suspicious
- Green = Trusted
- Grey = Untested (or not enough ratings)
As with all security software, nothing is 100%, so sometimes ratings can be wrong, however, in my experience, the ratings are usually only wrong on a very minority of sites. Any site that has a wrongful rating is also quickly rectified if the domain in question is raised on the WOT Forum
Facebook & WOT
There is many scams on Facebook and malicious links, with the new upgrade to the WOT plugin, you will be visually warned as to the safety of any external links posted to your wall or available on any other Facebook page. Below is a working sample of WOT in action on Facebook.
This will help you avoid a majority of the scams and malicious links contained on Facebook and is certainly a welcome addition to the WOT platform.
Twitter, Short URLs & WOT
WOT now also works with Twitter, and the biggest improvement (in my opinion), is that WOT will work with most shortened URLs. Shortened URLs is a handy type of service, that basically, allows you to take any web address and shorten the address so it is easier to post or share. Below is a live example of URL shortening for the Fife Direct website.
- Original Link: http://www.fifedirect.org.uk/topics/index.cfm?fuseaction=themes.display&themeid=2B892409-722D-4F61-B1CC-7DE81CC06A90
- Shortened Link: http://bit.ly/gFGMwu
Both links go to the same page, but one is easier to share than the other. The disadvantage to this service is that many spammers and scammers share their malicious links this way as it hides the true web site address, therefore you are following links blindly to potentially harmful sites.
With the new version of WOT, most URL shortening services will have a coloured circle next to the link to warn you if the site is trusted or not, clicking on the circle will also take you to the scorecard for the domain that the shortened link is taking you to, so you can view further information on any domain.
Public Release Date
The new version of WOT is still in beta testing and is currently being used by several users from the WOT community. This will give the WOT team a chance to test for any bugs on a much larger scale, and create any final tweaks to the plugin. Once all the tests have passed, it will be released as an update to the public.
In my experience WOT has provided an excellent service which is backed by a very good community of users. This plugin does not replace any existing security software you may have, it merely adds another layer of protection so you can browse in even more safety.
I do not know when this version will be released, but I am assuming that as soon as it is released your version of the plugin will be automatically updated or you will have to download a new version from the WOT website. I will update this post as soon as the update has been released.