I love word games and recently have gotten hooked on Words With Friends (WWF) on my Kindle. My strategy as a player has enjoyed some progress. I love when I have a strong opponent.
I haven’t been able to play with my Facebook friends though. Every time I try to click on link that takes me to the 31+ Facebook friends playing, I get a “W” tile that turns and turns. I’ve reached out to Zynga. I probably should have done so sooner because playing with “randos” has made me an unwitting target.
And it all started when I noticed the chat feature. I would see a number on the games and click to find people saying their hellos. I remember one guy asked me, “Do you not know how to use the chat?” when I realized chat was a part of WWF. I was offended at first. It was the holidays though so I reasoned that he must be lonely. “Sorry. I didn’t see the chat,” I told him. Then time got away from me and I said nothing further. The game eventually timed out because he didn’t play. I was convinced it was because I didn’t talk to him and maybe talking is part of the game now.
Timing out became a trend with the majority of these players. People I was paired with just wanted to talk not play. I found that highly irritating. I mean, I just want to play WWF. This isn’t “Chatting With Friends” after all.
I decided to search online about disabling the chat in WWF. (Fat chance of that I found out. I can uncheck the chat notifications only.)
I’m not the only person interested in ridding myself of this nuisance in WWF. I found several articles about these chatty players on WWF that went from innocent to nefarious in seconds. Some people are using WWF as their dating app, while others in the game are scammers.
Writer Rae Alexandra (NPR) started experiencing harassment on WWF. She reached out to other women to see if they were having the same experience. They showed her some of their chats. Men resorted to vulgarity and harassment when they did not get anywhere with the women. I’ve included the link to her article so you can see her full report here.
Blogger Brad Berens wrote in a post about his mom’s experience with scammers on WWF. He said these scammers look for lonely, older female players. They want to build a relationship with them so later they’ll feel inclined to help them monetarily when disaster strikes or an emergency surgery is needed. Berens doesn’t think you should play with strangers. Should you choose to though, he said not give out personal information. I was naive and failed that part. I did tell some of these players I live in Dayton. Real smart. It’s a good thing I have Lifelock.
Berens said most definitely do not give these folks money. He suggested players change their profile photo (like to one of your pet). He also said you should do a “sanity check” with a trusted friend or family member if tempted to give someone money. And do your research.
I learned a lot just from the comments under Berens’ post. Men also have gotten bombarded by female scammers. They don’t seem to care when the guy says he’s 65 and married. They want iTune cards. Several players have told almost identical back stories to the ones I read on the chats: the player is widowed and has a child. He works for the military – a new one, the U.N. He’s an engineer or works on an oil rig. These scammers don’t call people by name — just “dear” or “pretty lady.” Those commenting also said they usually want you to talk with them in a Google hangout to save their cell phone minutes. It’s less secure too an makes it easier for them to hack your account. Creepy. Thank goodness I researched this when I did. See this scam alert from NBC12.
I am left wondering why Zynga, the company who made the game, doesn’t make a way for people to disable the chat so we all can avoid becoming victims of scam artists. (And why haven’t I been able to play only with Facebook friends?) I’ve reached out to them and will add to this post when they respond. I’m hoping that they have a solution or else I will have to give up Words With Friends.
In the meantime, I’m going to follow Rick Springfield’s advice: “Don’t talk to strangers!”