Anya Schiffrin

from The Great Debate:

A case of social-media identity theft

Anya Schiffrin
Mar 29, 2011 17:28 UTC

A few years ago I needed to reach the Central Bank governor of Nigeria (yes, I know that sounds like the beginning of an e-mail scam). I went on to Facebook and saw there were several profiles and finally chose the one that seemed the most likely, which included a smart photo of him speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos. I friended this man and duly received a reply. The next time I saw him I mentioned that we were friends on Facebook. His reply was “What is Facebook?”

But I suppose we don’t take social-media identity theft as seriously as it warrants until it hits closer to home. Recently, someone out there created a phony LinkedIn profile for my husband, the economist Joseph E. Stiglitz.

His friends are frustrated by the fact that he rarely reads or answers his e-mail so the idea that he would go to the trouble of  setting up a LinkedIn profile is laughable. Even more of a giveaway is the fact that the vandal who set up this account misspelled the phrase Nobel Prize as “Nobel Price.” Our friend Tina Rosenberg, who just published a book called Join the Club, laughed and said it must be a special spelling reserved for economists.

More worrying is the fact that this phony Joseph E. Stiglitz seems to be recommending
“Rilk W. Dacleu Idrac Senior Executive Ilc to Project Portfolio Management at The Boston Consulting Group” for his work in Kazakkhstan. The praise is tempered by this poorly written and ungrammatical reference that reads: “Had the pleasure to manage Rilk's team on Kazakhstan's FTCI reform advised and driven by the BCG. Always looking to deliver the best at the right time, Rilk enable of the great leader's ability to learn very quickly and always succeed turning problem he faces into great achievements. Really looking forward working with him again, I'm sure the best of his career is yet to come. November 18, 2010.”

It would be nice to think that most people will immediately see this as a fraud, but there seem to be few remedies. We’ve emailed the folks at linkedin several times and asked them to take down the fake profile for my husband. Watch this space and in the meantime my advice is don’t connect to him.

from The Great Debate:

Japan shows another side of the press

Anya Schiffrin
Mar 14, 2011 15:48 UTC


By Anya Schiffrin
The opinions expressed are her own.

Sitting in Japan in the days after the Friday earthquake and watching the official broadcaster NHK cover the disaster has been an unusual experience. There has been the typical blanket television coverage of this tragedy but the flavor of the reporting is different than it would be in the U.S. “Restrained” is how one friend described it. Over and over we’ve seen the same awful footage of the enormous dirty wave sweeping up cars and houses as it inches slowly along the land.

There are the inevitable interviews with displaced people and experts in their offices. But there are very few graphics or charts, no catchy logos and certainly no dead or injured on the screen. Just as U.S. presidents take off their ties when they visit the troops, Japanese officials appearing on television wear the blue uniforms of someone doing physical labor but with their logo of their ministry or office sewn on their pocket. “It’s theatre” a Japanese friend said dismissively as we watched television last night. But the purposefulness and determination of the government officials were evident — and even my skeptical friend agreed that this commitment would be well-received by the electorate.

At Columbia University we recently began a study with Professor Jairo Lugo in the UK comparing the New York Times and UK Guardian’s coverage of natural disasters. One thing that was immediately clear is how quickly newspaper coverage of natural disasters becomes coverage of the state. This is so even in the US where there is long standing skepticism about the state, and -- these days — a widespread view that the government should play a limited role.