So, you've heard all about this brand new social network called Google+. The tech illuminati are all aflutter about it, our own Mark Sullivan and Megan Guess have given it high marks. But there's one problem: as of Wednesday night, you can no longer get in.
Google has stressed that its nascent social network is just a "field trial" at this stage. Despite the search giant's warnings that this isn't ready yet for prime time, people still want in. What we're beginning to see is a black market develop for that coveted Google+ invite.
As of Thursday afternoon, a search on eBay showed 69 listings for "google+ invites." selling prices ranged from 99 cents to as high as $27.00, with some even offering to teach you the ins and outs of the new service. A search of my local Craigslist listings also brought up a few listings.
It's surprising to me that some techies are going as far as to part with actual money for an invite to a social network. But then again to some being first in is more important, no matter what crazy price they may pay.
Along with the obvious ways of making money, the controlled rollout is also opening the door for possible scams. PCWorld has already seen at least one comment (since removed) on a recent Google+ story.
"I have some invites left, request them here: http://wp.me/p1FykR-6," read the comment. The link leads to a Wordpress page with a form asking for the users name and e-mail. I sure as heck wouldn't fill that form out, or even trust visiting the site for that matter.
Overeager future Google+'ers are also taking a risk by posting their e-mail addresses in the comments of many stories across the web on the topic, aiming to get that coveted invite. Doing so can open you up to spam -- and with the recent spat of hacking, possibly put you at risk of even worse.
So here's a suggestion. Be patient. Chances are that a friend of yours will soon be allowed in. Get an invite from people you know, not some stranger on the Internet. Beware of any person on the web offering an invite in exchange for personal information or payment. It's much better to be safe than sorry, don't you think?
This story, "Google+ invites are hot: Watch out for scams" was originally published by PCWorld.