Go Phish

So I fell prey to that Google phishing scam yesterday.


Now I’m going to make a bunch of excuses: I got the email before it became big news (it hadn’t even shown up on Twitter yet!), it was from a guy I volunteer with who was supposed to send me a Google Doc this week (and who usually BCCs the other volunteers), it was after lunch and I’d hit a blood sugar lull…

But I knew. In my heart of hearts, I was like, “this looks kind of weird, what’s the deal with this hhhhhh email address” – but I clicked it anyway. And now I have to live with the shame. I mean, I teach kids about internet safety, and I fell for a phishing scam?!

And then I thought: oh man, what an opportunity.

During our fake news unit earlier in the year, I told students about an article I’d shared on Facebook (from my mom, natch) without checking its accuracy first. A friend Snopesed it and commented that I should be more careful –since, you know I teach media literacy – and I was super embarrassed. I’d spread fake news!

When I shared this with my students, they were aghast. “YOU did that?!” they asked, faces full of horror.

Yes, I sure did – and ever since then, I double-check everything I post on social media. And this is the same thing!

Kids need to know that we screw up, too. A lot! None of us are perfect internet users. I am, in the scheme of things, extremely tech-savvy, and I – and a whole bunch of my tech-savvy friends, including the guy I got the email from – totally fell for this. Our students sometimes think that we adults just magically know how to do stuff already, and we don’t. We are constantly having to learn new things and adjust accordingly, just like them.

So even though I’m embarrassed – really, really embarrassed – I’m going to tell my students I fell for the Google phishing scam. And I’m also going to tell them what I learned:

  • Trust your gut! It looked weird, it felt weird, and it was weird, and I should’ve trusted my instincts there.
  • If you’re suspicious at all, double-check with the sender. Lots of my friends texted me to ask if I’d sent them the Google Doc on purpose.
  • Hackers are going to keep getting smarter, so we have to get smarter too. Apparently there have been similar versions of this scam before, and if I’d known about them, I might not have fallen for this one.
  • Never volunteer.

…wait, not that last one.


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