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Mafia Wars CEO Brags About Scamming Users

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

Social Networks 251

jamie writes with a follow-up to our recent discussion of social gaming scams: "Mark Pincus, CEO of the company that brought us Mafia Wars, says: 'I did every horrible thing in the book just to get revenues right away. I mean, we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this Zwinky toolbar, which was like, I don't know... I downloaded it once and couldn't get rid of it.'" TechCrunch also ran a interesting tell-all from the CEO of a company specializing in Facebook advertisements, who provided some details on similarly shady operations at the popular social networking site.

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251 comments

And he likes that he did this... (4, Insightful)

lamapper (1343009) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070486)

The guy is pretty much bragging about how and what he did to start his company. I can respect what he is created and still not like the method he used to do it.

Anything that exposes additional personal information on us to the web is bad IMO. All personal info, should be OFF by default anything less is unacceptable. If I choose to click a box and expose personal info, it should only be by my choice, not to agree to a TOS.

The guy even admits that the polls were BS, just collecting a user's personal information for selling to advertisers to generate revenue.

Re:And he likes that he did this... (1)

lul_wat (1623489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070608)

I don't place mafia wars and my facebook isn't hidden from any facebook user. Why? Because aside from my first name, no other info on there is real .. oh, except that I'm single. That should be a given seeing as I'm posting here. -5 Offtopic

Re:And he likes that he did this... (0, Flamebait)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070714)

I don't place mafia wars and my facebook isn't hidden from any facebook user. Why? Because aside from my first name, no other info on there is real .. oh, except that I'm single. That should be a given seeing as I'm posting here.

So basically you're just trying to find a date from Facebook? I hope you have as much luck as this guy [deccanchronicle.com].

A British man has been tagged "The Sperminator" for getting 12 girls pregnant after wooing them on social networking site Facebook. Five women are now raising his kids, five were talked into abortions and two are expecting. For years, love rat Dominic Baronet secretly preyed on women with his smooth Internet patter.

When the girls started talking, they realised he’d impregnated them both on the same night. "Dominic should be banned from Facebook. He uses it to juggle scores of girls.

"We call him the Sperminator as he just goes around getting girls pregnant and doesn’t ever think about the consequences," she added.

Re:And he likes that he did this... (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071248)

>>>"Dominic should be banned from Facebook..... We call him the Sperminator as he just goes around getting girls pregnant and doesn't ever think about the consequences"

He'd just move over to the local bar.
Men have been impregnating girls for millions of years.
It's what they do, and why anyone is shocked by this is a mystery.

As for "not thinking about consequences" isn't that what the women did as well? It seems they are just as guilty, else they'd not be pregnant

Re:And he likes that he did this... (5, Insightful)

bkr1_2k (237627) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071382)

As for "not thinking about consequences" isn't that what the women did as well? It seems they are just as guilty, else they'd not be pregnant

Yes, but that doesn't make for good sensationalistic journalism. Recognizing that there are also plenty of women (or at least 12 apparently) using facebook to get laid makes it less about the "predator" and more about the fact that people want/need sex and will do whatever it takes to get it...both men and women. Either the women were stupid (and not paying attention to the things he said/did) or they were looking for the same thing he was and now feel stupid because they're pregnant. Big deal.

There's nothing wrong with women or men wanting sex and using facebook to get it. Lying about things in order to get sex is fairly standard practice, as despicable as it is, in real life and on the the internet... this isn't news, or at least it shouldn't be.

Re:And he likes that he did this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30071400)

I'm sorry, but it sounds like the women were just easy. If they are that easy to get in the sack, then they weren't much of a conquest...

Re:And he likes that he did this... (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072152)

A British man has been tagged "The Sperminator" for getting 12 girls pregnant after wooing them on social networking site Facebook. Five women are now raising his kids, five were talked into abortions and two are expecting. For years, love rat Dominic Baronet secretly preyed on women with his smooth Internet patter.

Don't you love it how these retarded bitches are suddenly victims? I'm sorry, but unless it was rape, he didn't "prey" on anyone. Didn't their mom tell them not to fuck guys they barely know without at least some protection?

Re:And he likes that he did this... (1)

lamapper (1343009) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070880)

I don't place mafia wars and my facebook isn't hidden from any facebook user. Why? Because aside from my first name, no other info on there is real .. oh, except that I'm single.

So Facebook forces you to violate their terms of service in order to protect your privacy and personal information. I consider this a huge FAIL!

You understand of course that they could cancel you in a heartbeat if they found out and decided to enforce their terms of service which stipulates only real names can be used.

BTW, I think that is very smart of you, not to put real information in your profile, but it would suck to get a decent following and friends list and have it all ripped away when they canceled you.

Re:And he likes that he did this... (5, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071050)

but it would suck to get a decent following and friends list and have it all ripped away when they canceled you

But not as bad as getting the Zwinky toolbar. Some years ago I got one of those horrible persistent-ware things and it was like the monkey's paw. I finally had to run my computer over with my car repeatedly to finally get rid of it.

Re:And he likes that he did this... (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071430)

I tried that to -- but Bonzai Buddy was too tough. Stupid purple monkey kept rising from the grave.

Re:And he likes that he did this... (1)

JJJK (1029630) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070700)

He's like a kid who asks "why don't we just turn all traffic lights to yellow all the time, this way everyone would get around faster!" or "Hey, if I print money I can make myself rich!" but then actually does it. Way to think outside the box...

Re:And he likes that he did this... (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070950)

At least he produced something that, at least to some people, has value. Most of those kids grow up and get jobs on Wall Street...

Re:And he likes that he did this... (4, Funny)

genican1 (1150855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071096)

I knew something was up when the zwinky download page asked for my blood type.

Re:And he likes that he did this... (1)

INT_QRK (1043164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071282)

Hey, does anybody in the Justice Department read slashdot by any chance? Freebee anyone?

Does this surprise anyone? (4, Insightful)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070488)

... anyone using Facebook, that is. It's a pit of shady applications. Not even the nice applications are not annoying in some aspect. You can't even take a quiz there without having it try force itself onto others. Sometimes trying to fool you into thinking that the only way to see the results is to publish it to your friends.

There was a time when we couldn't dream of malicious quizzes, and infesting horoscopes, but Facebook brings the necessary application intelligence to us. In a bad way. Their application API must be like a spammer's wet dream.

Absurd application rights are to blame (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30070816)

My biggest problem with FB applications is the absurd policy about what rights do the applications have. Either you give them no rights at all (and can't use it) or you give them full access to all your and your friends' info. You can then go to settings and stop the application from posting to your wall, etc... But it has access to all the information you have access to.

There are occasionally rather interesting looking small games, quizes, etc. that I would want to try out... But I don't want to give them full access to all my information! Those quizes don't need it at all, the application doesn't use any of it. Perhaps a list of friend names so it can show "Your friends got these results" but that's it.

If there only was a way to use some checkbox list "Let these access list of my friends but not their (or my) relationshipstatus, their (or my) photos, the groups they (or I) belong to..." or anything like that, I would use a lot more applications. But it is either "Tell them everything or don't use them".

Re:Absurd application rights are to blame (4, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070902)

If you want to play the games so bad and don't want to give out your information, then the solution for now is to just have an account with no friends (a.k.a. the Saturday Night Slashdot Special.)

Re:Absurd application rights are to blame (3, Informative)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071450)

But most of the games require you to have a certain number of "crew" to unlock certain parts of the game.....so you just need to friend other "Saturday Night Slashdot Special" accounts (at least 501 so you can max your Mafia) and go from there.

Re:Absurd application rights are to blame (1)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071832)

the Saturday Night Slashdot Special

a.k.a. the Drive-By Trolling Account

Re:Absurd application rights are to blame (5, Insightful)

GospelHead821 (466923) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071230)

Let's assume that they're not doing anything illegal with your data. Let's even assume they're not doing anything shady like trying to install software that you won't be able to get rid of later. Is anybody else even a little bit sympathetic to the argument that this is how Facebook makes money? They don't charge their users. The only "product" they have to sell is their users' freely-given information. The Slashdot crowd tends to be more security conscious than others but I've actually thought about this one. Am I willing to trade some of my anonymity for the use of an interesting, free service? Yeah, a little bit, I am. Cue the zealots shouting about how I deserve to have my identity stolen and my credit trampled into the ground for my heresy.

Re:Absurd application rights are to blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30072186)

Let's assume that they're not doing anything illegal with your data. Let's even assume they're not doing anything shady like trying to install software that you won't be able to get rid of later. Is anybody else even a little bit sympathetic to the argument that this is how Facebook makes money?/i

I agree with you on this, but where I disagree with you is that anyone should be making money off a social networking platform in the way Facebook does.

There needs to be a standard, open protocol and system for social networking that isn't tied so closely to a particular vendor. Social networking needs to be more like email, or http, or something like that. Google Wave is the closest I've seen to something like this, although it may be overhyped and not even quite what I'm talking about.

Re:Absurd application rights are to blame (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071956)

Are you sure it gives the application access to all your friends info? I'm on Facebook but I'll admit I didn't realise this, so effectively although I never install these shitty apps, if what you say is true they could be leeching my information anyway? As I've refused giving these applications access to my personal information that would certainly seem to be a breach of the data protection act in the UK as I explicitly denied them access to my information when I recieved requests and of course, friends can't legally give permission to hand my data out.

Adverts that Facebook should not allow (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30070916)

I have a scratch account on Facebook with only 1 friend, my real account. I use it for trying some apps because it has no valuable information. I can use privacy settings on my real account to prevent it seeing that.

Still, its page has sections that look like the normal Facebook UI but say things like "4 of your friends have sent you ......". The account only has 1 friend, so this is a banner ad dressed up to look like part of the UI.

Facebook should surely not allow this!

There are some people out there for whom you'd hope that some form of Karma applies, even if it is that by being untrustworthy themselves people around them start treating them as such. Sad to say and all that.

Re:Does this surprise anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30071264)

Not even the nice applications are not annoying in some aspect.

Didn't anyone ever tell you that double-negatives are a real no-no?

Re:Does this surprise anyone? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30071584)

Their application API must be like a spammer's wet dream.

Certainly sounds like it from this blog post [pjf.id.au] at least... I wouldn't be surprised at all if there were many more (ab)uses like this lurking in other parts of the API.

Business men (2, Interesting)

Tibia1 (1615959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070548)

This is just a business man summing up to the obvious things that run this sort of business. If you don't control your product to maximize revenues, you are decreasing your wealth.

Re:Business men (3, Insightful)

Chatterton (228704) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070694)

This is more like a bank robber that once he have all the money he need he open its night club and live from his hard earned money and never rob again. Shady business is shady business, successful and converted to a legitimate business or not sucessful.

Re:Business men (1)

Rig0r (1677040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070746)

The saddest thing about this all is that this kind of shady actions only happen because some users are still too ignorant to see that they sign in for way too much trouble and get nothing but a small token in return to have some entertainment that isn't going to last anyway.

Re:Business men (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070964)

If you RTFA, you'll notice a major target was kids. They would target the kids then charge the parents cell phone bills.

Re:Business men (3, Insightful)

hldn (1085833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070994)

then the parents got what they deserved for getting cellphones for their kids.

kids don't need cellphones, and if they really feel that they do, they can get a job and pay for it themselves.

Re:Business men (2, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071284)

I don't have a kid but if I did I'm put them on the $5/month. (i.e. The same one I have.) You get 5 dollars each month credited to your phone, and if you run-out, too bad. You should have learned to budget your money more wisely.

And if a child does charge a credit card or cellphone, per consumer protection law, that charge is illegal and can be charged-back by your credit card company.

Re:Business men (4, Interesting)

Eivind Eklund (5161) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071500)

I really, really wish "Kids don't need cell phones" was true. And it may be that it is some places. Unfortunately, it also seems that it is a real need in some places: Lacking a cell phone will totally cut the kid off from their social circle, because very large parts of communication goes by SMS.

It's the same with net access; I personally believe that kids would mature better if they were all without cell phones and unmonitored net access until they're well into their teens. Alas, when almost all kids get cellphones and net access, denying to just one kid makes that kid an outcast :-(

Eivind.

Re:Business men (1)

Rig0r (1677040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071162)

As far as I know Mafia Wars, the points that are to be bought aren't charged by SMS but only by Creditcard or Paypal.

Re:Business men (1)

cbope (130292) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070996)

Please let us know who you work for so we can all avoid your company, if this is how you really feel based on TFA. This kind of BS aggressive attitude is what is wrong in a lot of companies. Basically you are saying screw the customers and you don't care if you step on toes to get rich. Go F yourself.

Re:Business men (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071072)

This is just a business man summing up to the obvious things that run this sort of business. If you don't control your product to maximize revenues, you are decreasing your wealth.

If I don't steal all your money at gunpoint, I'm just decreasing my own wealth, right?

trype (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30070580)

Such trype. This article is pure horseshit.

Seen the likes before (5, Interesting)

Xerfas (1625945) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070594)

A friend of mine wrote a program which installed on the users computer even when you clicked "No" on the do you wish to install this application in Internet Explorer. This was to reconnect the users modem to a modempool his boss had which was very hard to get rid off, because he wrote it very viral like. Remove one or 2-3 parts and suddenly you had it again.
When I spoke to his boss about this and other stuff he had on their rippoff of the hotornot site he just shrugged and said it's in a gray area and not illegal yet so I don't care.
People like this will always be out there and they don't care how they make money or who gets hurt as long as they have a nice income.

Re:Seen the likes before (1)

bkr1_2k (237627) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071664)

Installing specifically after a user says "no" is definitely not in a gray area... it's clearly "hacking" a system for your own use, which is definitely against the law, at least here in the USA.

Re:Seen the likes before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30072130)

Until someone like me comes along, who does not care, even if he gets sued afterwards, if it's worth it, finds the address of them, catches them at night, puts a sack over them, and drives them to the woods is the party van, for a nice little anonymous beating that will teach him for life.

You know, as long as I'm not caught "it's not illegal, but a 'gray area', so I don't care", right? Right?

Sometimes the old times, when the law of the jungle was still the natural way, are still the most righteous times.

Ugly things happen ... (2, Interesting)

YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070610)

... when people feel they need to get rich. This guy phrases it as 'controlling his destiny' to get profits as soon as possible, which IMHO reeks of addiction to money. And lets face it, some of the really rich people who control or own more or less reputable companies now have probably done some pretty shady things in the beginning of their career just to get to that point. Some probably just get there by chance, because they happen to have a talent that more or less by coincidence generates money, but some start with a real _need_ for money and power, which is a good incentive to not be too picky about morals and ethics. Thinks about real estate e.g., where lots of people are speculating hoping to get rich and ruthlessness can give you a real advantage.

I read about a research a while ago (years, sorry no source) that states that acquiring large sums of money creates the same kind of euphoria as for instance using cocaine as it causes the same neurotransmitters to be produced in the brain. Irrational need for more and more money is a real addiction I think and should be treated as such.

The only remarkable thing this guys is doing is being open and forward about it.

Re:Ugly things happen ... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30070712)

I read about a research a while ago (years, sorry no source) that states that acquiring large sums of money creates the same kind of euphoria as for instance using cocaine as it causes the same neurotransmitters to be produced in the brain. Irrational need for more and more money is a real addiction I think and should be treated as such.

That's because any positive thing happening to you releases those neurotransmitters, which is exactly why cocaine makes you feel good. That one person who you don't even know is rich did something you don't like does not imply that all people with a lot of money are evil. That you infer that just shows that you already believe rich people to be evil, and you see this as an opportunity to reinforce your previous belief, never mind that this doesn't actually constitute any sort of basis to believe what you do. Don't feel too bad - this is a common thing for humans to do.

Re:Ugly things happen ... (4, Interesting)

Xerfas (1625945) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070806)

I read about a research a while ago (years, sorry no source) that states that acquiring large sums of money creates the same kind of euphoria as for instance using cocaine as it causes the same neurotransmitters to be produced in the brain. Irrational need for more and more money is a real addiction I think and should be treated as such.

Did you mean something like this? http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111579154 [npr.org] though it's more related to love according to this article.

Researcher Xinyue Zhou, of the department of psychology at Sun Yat-Sen University in China, puts it in very human terms. "We think money works as a substitute for another pain buffer -- love."

And they link to this pdf http://www.csom.umn.edu/assets/127771.pdf [umn.edu]
Seems like if you handle money you can endure certain amounts of pain a bit more if the study is correct and you feel more strength.

Re:Ugly things happen ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30070896)

You mean taking cocaine makes you feel rich?

Funny that, I thought it had the opposite effect...

Re:Ugly things happen ... (1, Troll)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071126)

Irrational need for more and more money is a real addiction I think and should be treated as such.

Saying this won't be popular around here, but we already have a perfectly good treatment for wealth addition.

It's called a highly progressive income tax, which includes capital gains.

The joys of capitalism (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070680)

"I love the smell of commerce in the morning."

The problem is that if he went to wall street or venture capitalists to get funding they would have just done everything they could to shaft him, so he tried to shaft as many other people as possible so he could avoid contact with them until he was a little bit stronger. Google did the same or though they did it in a more responsible manner as they had a better (more profitable) idea.

Re:The joys of capitalism (2, Insightful)

arethuza (737069) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070792)

Didn't Google's first plan to make money, selling search engines, fail rather badly? They only came up with their wildly succesful business model based on advertising after the first one failed. Note they still do sell search appliances, but it is a tiny percentage of their revenue.

Re:The joys of capitalism (1)

joss (1346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070930)

> Didn't Google's first plan to make money, selling search engines, fail rather badly?

No, it was about advertising almost from the beginning.

Re:The joys of capitalism (4, Insightful)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071618)

Actually he is right according "The Google Story" by David A Vise. Their original plan was to licence the underlying search technology to other search companies. It was only after they were stonewalled by every other search company who wanted to be able to skew results in favour of their best customers that they released their own search engine to the masses and started moving to an advertising based model.

Even now they are very ambivalent with regard to advertising. The have the most high value piece of internet real estate in existence (http://www.google.co.uk/) and it does not contain a single advert.

I know many people here may have bought into the current MS and AT&T sponsored "Google is Evil" campaign, but lets not forget they were shunned by every other search engine of the time as they were to interested in giving their users the most relevant results, not the results that made them the most money. Until this changes it will always be my home page as I wonder whether Bing and Yahoo would go to revenue based results at the drop if a hat if Google were out of the picture.

Re:The joys of capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30072112)

google.com is worth more, you fucking British muppet.

They run the world. (2, Insightful)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070742)

Bad thieves and scammers steal and scam, and get squashed.

Meh thieves and scammers steal and scam, and brag about it.

Great thieves and scammers steal and scam, and get public funding as well as election votes.

Why getting mad at this guy, while great scammers run the world?

Re:They run the world. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30071074)

er... shut up you stupid little idiot.

Re:They run the world. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30071558)

NO U

Getting rid of toolbars (1, Insightful)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070794)

I mean, we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this Zwinky toolbar, which was like, I don't know... I downloaded it once and couldn't get rid of it.

Hijackthis would usually get rid of most toolbars. Firefox toolbars are easier to get rid of.

Re:Getting rid of toolbars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30070836)

The fact that you need a third party tool to clean that crap up isn't a problem for you?

Re:Getting rid of toolbars (1)

EponymousCustard (1442693) | more than 4 years ago | (#30070982)

It's usually a bit more difficult if a hidden trojan is installing the toolbar for you. I've seen some trojans than require killbox and then removal of the power lead since the registry entries reinitialize upon logoff and shutdown. this was a couple of years ago, i imagine they are even worse now.

Instead of attacking his morals... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30070844)

Instead of attacking his morals, let's attack the business plan and point out why upsetting your customers and breaking that important trust relationship is a bad long term strategy.

Take Amazon or PayPal for example... Would you use them again if they didn't accept a return unreasonably or stole your money?

Re:Instead of attacking his morals... (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071572)

Instead of attacking his morals, let's attack the business plan and point out why upsetting your customers and breaking that important trust relationship is a bad long term strategy.

Scammers don't care about that. If their operation is shut down they'll just open up again with another name. They could even up several operations at once so that if one went down the others would continue.

And he's not the only one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30070912)

I worked once for a company owning an online store. The big boss was extremely proud of himself for thinking about not offering the possibility to unsubscribe to the newsletters about products etc. The emails contained a text of the "click here to unsubscribe" sort, but it never worked.
His laugh when he told us this still haunts me, for years now. For him the clients were just a bunch of idiots with money to spend.

the best policy? (1)

uncanny (954868) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071016)

The only thing i find shocking about this is that he's actually honest about it. there are countless programs out there that got big by doing this, he's just admitting it!

The first words in "The Godfather" novel were.... (4, Insightful)

yoey (247125) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071036)

"Behind every great fortune is a crime." -- Honoré de Balzac

There needs to be a class action lawsuit... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30071044)

... if not a criminal investigation. C'mon guys, he (and others) openly admit to fraudulently signing up users for subscription based texting schemes without EVER (even in the fine print) asking for the permission of the user. Considering that the carriers also benefited (I think they got half of the proceeds) they should also be strung up by the b***s for their complicity.

Blaming "greed" accomplishes what? (4, Interesting)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071062)

Whenever corporate mismanagement causes some calamity, people invariably decry the people responsible as "greedy bastards", "short-sighted morons", and so on. Although these statements are true, stating them is useless: greed, as a part of human nature, is here to stay. And organizations invariably elevate their most greedy and ambitious members because these are people are the ones who will exploit the rules to their advantage. Thus, given that greedy people will inevitably be in positions of power, we need to construct rules which ensure that this greed doesn't harm society. These rules need to make it the greedy party's interest to be a good participant in society.

We seem to ignore this principle. Over and over again, we fume and demand that companies and individuals be more responsible and respectful. Yet hardly anyone talks about implementing rules that would actually limit the damage.

A huge number of people believe that if society were just free of constraints, it'd organize itself into an efficient, elegant system and solve all our problems. That's wishful thinking. Greedy people will take advantage of inside connections, of special knowledge, and of outright dishonesty to screw over everyone else. And as much as we'd like to believe that the screwed will respond by researching their own information and leveling the playing field, doesn't actually happen, and won't.

First of all, even if everyone were equally capable, the screwing party has more time to research a particular type of transaction than the screwed party, so the asymmetry is really built-in. Second, not everyone is equally capable. As Larry Summers famously wrote, "There are idiots. Look around." Sometimes people can't help being idiots. Does that mean they deserve to be exploited? How far does that extend? Do people deserve to be exploited because they haven't studied browser security, or because they're not privy to office gossip, or because they don't have the social skills to network their way out of sticky situations?

We're going to keep seeing "X screwed over by powerful greedy person Y" stories until we use political channels to create new regulations that makes it in the best interests of the greedy to play nice with society. We can talk about the form these regulations should take. (IMHO, I think it's pretty clear we need far stronger privacy laws in the US.) What won't work is complaining that corporations are greedy. What won't work is trying to make laws while under the delusion that everyone is a rational actor with full access to relevant information. What might work is a determined effort to restore a sense of fair play and balance to our laws and institutions.

--

tl;dr: greed is a fact of life, and crying about it won't do any good. We need effective and strong regulation to prevent the greed that invariably appears from hurting the rest of us.

Re:Blaming "greed" accomplishes what? (0, Troll)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071170)

greed, as a part of human nature,

People should be always suspicious toward prophets (and propaganda workers) who are trying to explain humans what humans are supposed to feel to follow our own "human nature". Humans have all kinds of emotions and motivations, and tendency for what we recognize as selfishness and competitiveness being balanced by approximately the same amount of tendency toward what we recognize as altruism and cooperation. If humans were overwhelmingly inclined toward some specific kind of behavior, that behavior would not ever be given a name because it would never be necessary to explain it to a human. Is there a specific name for a typical way of walking? Typical way of breathing? Typical attitude toward others? If something has a name, especially a recognizable and emotionally charged one, it has to be a deviation.

is here to stay

Greed, being a deviant behavior, is very easy to suppress to the level when it does not take over large groups of people and turns them into a danger to everyone around them.

That is, when the society is not full of stupid fuckheads like yourself who bought this idea of greed being the only driving force that is worth following.

Re:Blaming "greed" accomplishes what? (5, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071288)

stupid fuckheads

First, maturity is realizing that not everyone who disagrees with you is a "fuckhead".

Is there a specific name for a typical way of walking? Typical way of breathing? Typical attitude toward others?

As a matter of fact, we have an extensive vocabulary to describe all these things. Try "strolling", "breathing" and "being amicable". In fact, that a concept has a simple name in all languages shows by sort of a reverse Sapir-Whorf route the universality of that concept.

Greed, being a deviant behavior

Greed isn't deviant. In fact, it's rather common, and to some degree, universal. What we call "greed" is just the manifestation of game theory [wikipedia.org]. Every organism acts in its own interest, or more precisely, in the interest of its genes. Organisms do this because they inherited the trait from their ancestors, who were the organisms who spread their genes best. Humans are not above mathematics. It's only natural that we act in our best interests too. But for the most part, we do so by cooperating, because they makes us all better off.

When all is well, we all get along in a state of enlightened self-interest where our self-interest and collective interest balance. But aggressive players can disrupt the game and at least temporarily benefit. Sometimes the gain really is short-term, and the society (system) settles back into a stable state [wikipedia.org]. Other times, a new equilibrium is achieved. In human terms, that new equilibrium usually isn't desirable, and even the aggressors end up worse off. (To pick an example: who did the Trojan War benefit, exactly?)

If we want a stable society in which we can all accrue the maximum personal benefit, we need to push back against those who would destabilize it using short-sighted aggressive behavior. To do that, we need to institute rules that make this behavior less attractive, and we need to institute rules that make society more tolerant to the damage caused by this aggressive behavior.

"Good" and "bad" are inflammatory and irrelevant on this level. Instead, we should be talking about how to prevent society from being damaged by its most aggressive members.

Re:Blaming "greed" accomplishes what? (1, Flamebait)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071520)

First, maturity is realizing that not everyone who disagrees with you is a "fuckhead".

No, it's realization that some people are in fact fuckheads.

Greed isn't deviant. In fact, it's rather common, and to some degree, universal.

Most of deviant behavior is rather common and universal, just significantly less common than mainstream and recognized as such.

Most people do not exhibit a compulsion to rip off their fellow humans without having their life and health threatened, or being placed in other equally dire circumstances. People like the above mentioned businessmen, do, and their lackeys (a.k.a. fuckheads) spread propaganda trying to convince others (sane people) that such behavior is "natural".

What we call "greed" is just the manifestation of game theory.

Game theory does not describe a society.

When all is well, we all get along in a state of enlightened self-interest

Wow. Just wow.

where our self-interest and collective interest balance. But aggressive players can disrupt the game and at least temporarily benefit. Sometimes the gain really is short-term, and the society (system) settles back into a stable state. Other times, a new equilibrium is achieved. In human terms, that new equilibrium usually isn't desirable, and even the aggressors end up worse off. (To pick an example: who did the Trojan War benefit, exactly?)

More often than not such "balance" was achieved over many decades by society being nearly wiped out, and new generation adopting less idiotic ideas. Later it was achieved by being conquered and enslaved by less collectively stupid neighbors, having a bloody revolt, etc. At this point in history, I think, we are at the point when public humiliation of fuckheads is becoming sufficient to avert a disaster (or preventing it from spreading outside US).

Re:Blaming "greed" accomplishes what? (1)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071704)

Excellent posts, thanks. I think what you're trying to say in a nutshell (since some people are finding it hard to understand) is that we shouldn't create systems and rules that require people to behave like saints, because most of us are not saints.

Re:Blaming "greed" accomplishes what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30071414)

Greed, being a deviant behavior, is very easy to suppress to the level when it does not take over large groups of people and turns them into a danger to everyone around them.

That is, when the society is not full of stupid fuckheads like yourself who bought this idea of greed being the only driving force that is worth following.

I would like to point out that that is in fact what GP is saying. Acknowledging that greed exists and that it needs some form of control, rather than pretending it doesn't and hoping people arn't greedy. I don't think they were advocating that greed be treated as the sole useful part of human nature, far from it. Rather, they're acknowledging that some people are greedy, just like some people are compassionate. Furthermore, that some of those self-same greedy people are dishonest (also part of human nature - not a nice part, but humanity is unfortunately(?) not all sweetness and light). And that, in the absence of societal controls, these greedy and dishonest people will take advantage of others to the other person's detriment. I don't get how you take it from that premise to "greed is the only driving force worth following".

Re:Blaming "greed" accomplishes what? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071570)

Then how come, he protests against society performing its function of resisting such behavior by opposing and oppressing people who perpetrate it?

The whole "greed is natural" argument has no other purpose but to defend unusually greedy people from backlash caused by their actions. Oh, and occasionally as a stepping stone to "greed is good" that glorifies such people and paves their way to political power and ideological leadership.

Re:Blaming "greed" accomplishes what? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071872)

"greed is natural" also has the purpose, that you of course ignore, of being used as a justification for systems that don't fall apart in the presence of greed.

Economic systems are one example. And US style "capitalism" is a specific example of such a system that does not function in the presence of greed and hence is unworkable in reality.

If you create a multiplayer game without taking into consideration that some people will try and cheat and don't make you game not fall apart in their presence then said game is destined to fail. That doesn't mean cheating is fine. It doesn't mean that you are justifying the actions of cheaters by admitting they exist and trying to handle that.

Oh, and in the reality of politics you can't get away from greed. It's self selecting, there are only two real reasons to want political power:

1. Greed
2. Altruism

Guess which is more common?

Re:Blaming "greed" accomplishes what? (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071210)

Thus, given that greedy people will inevitably be in positions of power, we need to construct rules which ensure that this greed doesn't harm society.

Yet the rules are made by those in positions of power.

Re:Blaming "greed" accomplishes what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30072316)

You have to realise though that there is a difference between those that are in power with a motive to make as much money as possible, and those that are in power with a motive to provide a service to society. I realise some people on this site don't recognise that difference anymore, but that is more to do with their culture and political system than the difference itself.

There are those that see power as an end in itself. They're mostly mad or totally powerless (below that of even a regular citizen). Most people see power as means to get to an end, mostly comfort in the form of money or property. There are however people that have a sense of duty within them - that when they wield power, they do so to improve the lives of those under them - anyone of an officer rank (or any rank in charge of some group or people) within the armed forces should understand what I mean. This often has more to do with the position of trust given than the person themselves, but the personality obviously has an impact. These are people who we are willing to trust to make the right decision. If we have those in charge of the laws in a position where they recognise their public duty and their ability to twist things to help themselves is extremely limited, then we will see laws that actually make a difference and are considerably more robust against abuse.

Re:Blaming "greed" accomplishes what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30071340)

We need effective and strong regulation to prevent the greed that invariably appears from hurting the rest of us.

I'd rather see a technical solution than a legislative one. Those same greedy bastards have a talent, under our current political system, of ensuring that legislation doesn't interfere with their business model. But if you give me the power to, quickly and easily, ensure that my computer will do what I want it to do rather than what someone else wants it to do, then they are powerless.

A lot of these problems wouldn't exist if computers and the internet had been designed from the ground up with security in mind. Think end-to-end encryption on absolutely all data transfers, a pervasive web of trust and authentication, etc. Or just look at email - almost anything (even the most trivial[1] authentication) would be an improvement.

[1] Trivial if you're designing it in, rather than needing to be backwardly-compatible.

Re:Blaming "greed" accomplishes what? (4, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071472)

There's an old adage that advises, "never try to apply a technical solution to a social problem." It's true here: there were no attacks that an encrypted connection to Facebook would have mitigated; toolbar installation was the user's choice, not some drive-by download; finally, product offers and hidden $10-per-month charges didn't even have anything to do with computing, except incidentally.

While improving technical security is worthwhile, it's not something that would have helped here. You can't solve the dancing bunny [codinghorror.com] problem without preventing users from choosing what to do with their own machines. You'd have to implement draconian and pervasive DRM, and effective give people appliances when before they had general-purpose computers. That's a cure worse than the disease.

This problem is social, and needs a social solution. Legislation is how we collectively solve social problems. There's nothing inherently scary or sinister about law. It makes us civilized. Reading about the exploits of this CEO and the thousands like him, I can't help but think we need a lot more civilization right now.

Re:Blaming "greed" accomplishes what? (1)

rwv (1636355) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071604)

until we use political channels to create new regulations

Economic channels, as well. I know obvious stuff like taxation is a delusion because it's naive to think that somebody who would cheat their customers wouldn't also cheat the government. Even charities these days are based on pushing agendas (albeit somewhat altruistic ones) of the big players and giving them tax shelters.

What I think *would* make a difference is price controls on certain areas of the economy to make sure things stay affordable to families who make the average salary for the geographic region they live in. For example, the *most* expensive house in a region should not be allowed to be sold for $AVERAGE_ANNUAL_INCOME * 7. And this serves the double-benefit of helping to insulate us from housing bubbles.

(Though, I guess this is rudimentarily an idea that needs to make its way through political channels, so your original assertions stands!)

Re:Blaming "greed" accomplishes what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30071694)

I know obvious stuff like taxation is a delusion because it's naive to think that somebody who would cheat their customers wouldn't also cheat the government.

If taxation were ineffective, the rich wouldn't have pushed the government hard to reduce taxes in 2001. Auditors help. Taxation works.

What I think *would* make a difference is price controls on certain areas of the economy to make sure things stay affordable to families who make the average salary for the geographic region they live in. For example, the *most* expensive house in a region should not be allowed to be sold for $AVERAGE_ANNUAL_INCOME * 7.

Price controls inevitably lead to shortages, black markets, and other distortions. They're a really bad idea, and they've failed whenever they were tried. (Outside of World War II, anyway, when we transitioned to a command economy.)

As a minor nit, you want to use $MEDIAN_ANNUAL_INCOME instead of the average, otherwise you'll see the super-wealthy drag the average income up to a level that's still unaffordable to most people.

Really, what you're trying to do is mitigate the harm that comes from wealth disparity. It'd better to just eliminate that disparity in the first place by imposing a highly progressive income tax, creating laws that give workers and management equal power, and by creating a social safety net to ensure that people don't endure low pay just so that they won't starve.

Yes, this is socialism. It's not a dirty word. It works rather well wherever it's been tried --- in Europe, and in America between 1932 and 1979, and under this system, societies have seen prosperity and happiness like nothing before or since. It's worth a shot.

Re:Blaming "greed" accomplishes what? (1)

Crouse45 (1631351) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071730)

While I agree with some of your points I fail to see how your suggestion of additional regulations is really a solution. It’s easy to sit there and say with more regulations this wouldn't be a problem, but its equally easy to say that if people were more mindful of their personal data this wouldn't be a problem. Both are statements that sound good in principle but are next to impossible to implement into practice. You’re never going to get everyone to care about their own privacy like they should, and your never going to come up with legislation that will make the "greedy" put the welfare of society before themselves. I say this because the greedy as you call them are really just people that seek money as a means to feel fulfilled in life, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Making money is what makes them happy, just as "looking out for the good of society" makes other people happy. At the end of the day both sort of person are seeking happiness at the expense of the public. The "greedy" aren't going to create a game that isn't going to be monetarily successful. If a law was passed that outlawed all selling of personal data, they would find another way to make money off the game (more ads, charging to play, etc) or they won't make the game.

Re:Blaming "greed" accomplishes what? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072148)

We're going to keep seeing "X screwed over by powerful greedy person Y" stories until we use political channels to create new regulations that makes it in the best interests of the greedy to play nice with society. We can talk about the form these regulations should take. (IMHO, I think it's pretty clear we need far stronger privacy laws in the US.) What won't work is complaining that corporations are greedy. What won't work is trying to make laws while under the delusion that everyone is a rational actor with full access to relevant information. What might work is a determined effort to restore a sense of fair play and balance to our laws and institutions.

It's already happened. We've had such rules in place for many decades. You started out so well, then it appears to me that you fell into the mental trap you were warning us about. You can't regulate away greed. You can't make a market "fair" when some people know a lot more and are smarter than others. Idiots don't deserve to be exploited. But idiots who go out of their way to lose their money? Yes, they deserve to be exploited.

My view is that the real world is chock full of danger. Greedy, ruthless people being merely one of the more prominent. Excessive regulation merely hides that danger from the unwary, bogs down the markets, and encourages government interference in the markets and our lives.

Re:Blaming "greed" accomplishes what? (1)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072270)

so... if we could just find some un-greedy (thus by your definition, necessarily not-human) to make and enforce all the rules... then we would all be fine, right?

Mafia Wars is FREE (3, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071182)

Mafia Wars is free. You never have to install anything, spend any money, or visit any other sites. If you want some of the special tokens, you can do those things... But the tokens will only get you things that you could get anyway if you simply had some patience.

All of this is completely in the users' hands. The sponsors page even says things like 'don't sign up for this if you don't really want information on the product' and things like that. If you don't really -want- the Zwinkie toolbar, you shouldn't install it.

Re:Mafia Wars is FREE (2, Informative)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071286)

Exactly. However, people like you and me are not the ones who are targetted. It's kids who play it and don't have (yet) the self-restraint and knowledge to avoid those scams. Of course, it's the parents who will have to fit the bill.

Re:Mafia Wars is FREE (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071552)

Yeah, and the parents who let their kids have admin accounts before they know how to avoid them. My 18yo just got admin rights on her laptop we got her for graduation. But even then I also created a normal account for her and taught her to use the normal account as her primary account and only use the admin account to install stuff. My middle daughter has tried (not on purpose, of course) multiple times to install virus crap but couldn't because she wasn't an admin -- after I've had to help several friends out for the exact same mistakes, she realizes why I won't let her have an admin account.

Back in the day, parent used to teach their kids that the world out there was a scary place and they'd shelter them until they were ready to handle it in small chunks. The Internet is just as scary of a place but we (generalized "we") invite it in and don't introduce kids to it in small chunks but in totality.

Re:Mafia Wars is FREE (2, Interesting)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072020)

Wow, and I had "admin" rights on a computer before I was 10.

You have the exact opposite remembering of "back in the day" than I do.

I remember being allowed to walk the street at nights with friends, now I see parents driving their kids everywhere because of the evil pedophiles.

I remember going camping for a week with three friends when we were 13 - packing our own stuff (food, etc), catching the train for four hours, walking an hour or so to the camp site, and staying there for a week. No cell phones and with no way to be contacted at all. I suspect the parents would be thrown in jail today...

Re:Mafia Wars is FREE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30071296)

i play mafia wars and i dont have zwinky toolbar installed

Aladrian is right you can get the extra token if you play some more and have patience
or get screwed after installing malware or pay actual money to buy fictional stuff in an
online game
people who installed the toolbar also had greed of leveling up faster than others motivating
them to install the toolbar

Re:Mafia Wars is FREE (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071566)

Mafia Wars is free. You never have to install anything, spend any money, or visit any other sites.

Execpt that the USP of these games is that they are competetive.

If I take advantage of one of these offers, does it post a note to my Friends (tm) saying:

itsdapead is movin' on up the greasy pole, and has reached the rank of "Backstabbing Yuppie Oik" - rather than beating you the hard-but-honest way he's whipped out the Gold Card and bought a wad of Dollars.
To get a bonus from itsdapead, wait until hell freezes over.
Click here to remove itsdapead from your friends list.

These games are not just "free" games which let you play in response for viewing a few ads: are very artfully designed to actively provoke "peer pressure" to pay for extras or to sign up others - even in adults.

Personally, that's what puts me off Facebook: I didn't enjoy peer pressure when I was 12 and I certainly don't enjoy re-living it - however, (cough) years later I'm more capable of resisting it. However, I do remember what it was like, as a kid, to desperately want some must-have bit of tat - and this world is full of kids of all ages. There have to be some limits - some sensible compromise between the Nanny State and the Wild West.

All of this is completely in the users' hands.

...but that is not a free pass to distribute borderline malware - which is what TFA seems to be alleging.

Re:Mafia Wars is FREE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30071592)

THANKYOU!!!! I can't believe I had to scroll down this far to get a positive comment about MW

Not Surprising (2, Interesting)

zaffir (546764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071224)

Considering Zynga shamelessly rips off the games of others (go look at FarmTown, released ~6 months before FarmVille), that he'd be ok with scamming people is not shocking.

Re:Not Surprising (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071590)

WoW is just a rip-off of Ultima Online by that same standard. FarmTown looks rinky-dink in comparison to FarmVille.

I for one... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071240)

Would love to see this prick "sleep with the fishes".

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30071512)

Would love to see this prick "sleep with the fishes".

Careful there. You might alarm one of the resident bleeding hearts who gets all upset when someone suggests they'd like to see something bad happen to someone bad.

Re:I for one... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071754)

More likely, since this guy made money by being bad, I'll get the resident "What he did wasn't strictly illegal, that's capitalism, don't hate the player, hate the game" club.

sell:nike air max jordan shoes,coach,gucci,handbag (0, Offtopic)

coolforsale (1677136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071262)

http://www.coolforsale.com/ [coolforsale.com] If you want to have a warm winter,you have to know Ugg boots.Ugg boots are “must have ” nike air max jordan,shoes,caoch,gucci,lv,dg, ed hardy handbags,Polo/Ed Hardy/Lacoste/Ca/A&F T-shirtin, True Religion/Coogi/Evisu/Ed Hardy/Prada Jeansthe winter.Now here is an onlinestore , discount 30%-50% off,free shipping, you may take a look, you may find the UGGS you want here. http://www.coolforsale.com/ [coolforsale.com]

More technologically advanced scams. (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071334)

I am sure, supporters of this fine example of business will also defend this [healthnews6.com] scam.

It's a true masterpiece -- from dynamically generated "comments", to a disclaimer that everything on the page is a lie disguised as a "Terms and Conditions" fine print.

Aka "The Facebook Monetization Problem" (1)

ivoras (455934) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071352)

The root of all this is that it's still unclear just *how* to earn money from the service(s) Facebook provides, both for Facebook itself and for app developers. Apparently, showing ads down people's throats in one way (web) or the other (shady toolbar apps) is currently the only way.

Class action lawsuit ? (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071454)

Now that he has admitted this -- is there a case for a massive class lawsuit from people who have had this and wasted a lot of time as a result? The point would be to bankrupt him and, hopefully, make such other scam artists think twice before trying something similar.

What makes this different is the intention of this, as opposed to some bug.

Gimmee More! Gimmee Now! (1)

happy_place (632005) | more than 4 years ago | (#30071908)

The games are free, at least on the surface, but facebook games also factor in elapsed time... so they are only free, if you consider your time to be free.

They are designed to take years to play, each day you log in and click a button here or there, and then leave it. By providing pay-for-stuff-now content, games like those provided by Zynga are allowing users to skip the need to wait for months in order to have features in the game immediately. Essentially it allows players to 'go munchkin' (power up even at low levels) and essentially pay for the ability to get ahead in the game.

Not only do the games pander to the greedy side of human nature, but also to the impatient side of us. They're designed to take advantage of our worst qualities. All of these games encourage sharing/publishing your "feats" in the game to attract the attention of your friends--so they'll join you in the game.

Some games require you to "share" the game with other players and recruit others in order to unlock features--therefore garanteeing that the best players bring in other players. In a popular game that I just played, one had to have about 100 other players coordinate "attacks" against an otherwise unbeatable foe in order to beat that boss.

It's quite an ingenious niche in that the games start off very simple, and can grow complicated as the userbase matures. You really can't "win" a game like this, and unlike MMOs with level caps, and other game balancing features, there's really no motivation to balance the players that pay out. They simply add more content as time passes, or for special occasions, more features, and due to the casual nature of the game play and the forced ellapsed time requirements between game leveling, the illusion is that you're really not spending money or time on it at all...

Shocked I am! Shocked! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30072254)

Who would have guessed that the sort of pathetic douchebag who hangs out on Facebook would be susceptible to being scammed?

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