Back in college, my friend Jess would often declare to our group of friends, “I am not a link clicker.” At the time, several of our other friends and I thought she was silly to avoid them, that she was paranoid to think anyone could track her behaviors or that links could bring harm. She was, after all, into books and telephone conversations more than AIM, which, at the time, was all the rage. (She did eventually join, as it was the best way to be in regular touch with friends at other schools.) She just didn’t understand—it made common sense that so long as one knew the sender there was nothing to worry about.
Close to ten years later, it’s clear that Jess was on to something. Yes, considering the link sharer before clicking is still a no-brainer. But, link clicking in general is more and more risky with each passing day thanks to sophisticated pharming, sabotaged email and Twitter accounts, and shaded origins hidden in condensed links.