Public Advisories

Thanks to Google, Any Jerk Can Be a Psychic

Proof the Internet can help you bluff through almost anything.
4936925900 638688bc51 Thanks to Google, Any Jerk Can Be a Psychic

(flickr.com/gammaman)

Once upon a time, posing as a psychic required a certain charisma, a flair for the dramatic, a few props, and a killer wardrobe. Victorian mediums got really sophisticated, deploying technology rather like that Tupac hologram to simulate the appearance of the dearly departed. At the very least, the gig called for a knowledge of cold reading.

Now all you need is access to Google. Maybe Facebook if you want to get really fancy. Lame.

CNET reports that Romanian authorities have busted a couple of fortune tellers who were conning their clients using the Internets. A little Googling can tell you an awful lot about the recently deceased, and (as any half-decent Facebook stalker could tell you) a gander at someone’s social media page will reveal plenty about her recent activities. And so these two were able to identify and manipulate those who might, for example, be willing to toss all their money in a lake. (No, really.) If you want a disturbing reminder of just how much information you share about yourself on social media, SXSW experiment Take This Lollipop is more than happy to provide it.

Imagine what the corner tarot card reader could do with sophisticated data mining techniques.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com