Now that Facebook has billions of users, it also has
billions lots of spam and hoax posts making the rounds. Unfortunately, these posts can look like normal status updates, and one click can spam your entire social network and give a scam a viral life.
This problem isn’t going anywhere: In fact, these ploys are picking up – social media scams accounted for 53 percent of scams in 2012 – with a 42 percent increase in “targeted” dox attacks (attacking with knowledge of the victim’s personal information) says Norton Security. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the recent Facebook hoaxes plaguing the social network that you should keep an eye out for and avoid. So check out what’s infecting Facebook and seriously, do NOT click if you see any of the following show up in your own News Feed.
Farming Facebook likes
If you check out hacker forums, you’ll find endless resources attributed to farming Facebook likes from fake and real users. Let me start off by saying that there’s no one in particular that’s being scammed here. It’s probably the least direct “hoax” on this roundup, but you might wonder what’s the value in this strategy. Well Facebook likes, as simple as they may seem, are very, very important to marketers using the platform and they’ll stop at nothing to get them.
This hoax is a simple one. Create a Facebook page that evangelizes a product, game, service, or whatever you can think of, going as far as suggesting that the page is endorsed by the brand that the page was created around, and amass followers. The “hoax” here is in the method of how these pages garner followers.
You might have seen Facebook Pages that host a giveaway – for example, a smartphone if the page is dedicated to a certain type of smartphone. Many of these hoaxes will end up asking for likes and shares (which attracts your friends) to participate in said “contest,” but the catch is that these contests aren’t actually giving away anything. There’s no prize in the first place. A quick Google search is really enough for these “farmers” to take a photo for the purposes of this faux contest. And to farm more followers, these false contests are published regularly or tend to suggest that it’s offering hundreds of products for these giveaways.
Now how much money is there in this? Let’s just say that marketers are out there with a bit of money looking to take these popular Facebook pages off of the creator’s hands for around $1,000 per 100,000 follower Facebook page.
Facebook will save starving children by donating $1 per share … except not really
Tap into empathy and you’ll dupe enough people to make a quick buck. There’s a charity hoax going around, asking Facebook users to share a photo of a malnourished and sickly child, with the idea that every share will amount to $1 donated by Facebook to a charity.
Well, Facebook might be benevolent but it wouldn’t leave how much money a charity should receive up to its users. Trust us, the company has plenty of money to donate as it sees fit.
The creators of the hoax are simply trying to accumulate likes and shares in a rather unethical manner, using random images of sickly children from the Internet. Since in some instances these photo posts might include a link to a certain webpage or Facebook page, you can see how it might drive traffic to a target URL rather quickly.
Celebrity Facebook hoaxes
Celebrities have a lot to worry about unfortunately, with impersonators plentiful on Facebook and other social networks. And fans of these celebrities can be schemed out of their hard-earned dollars.
An elaborate hoax devised and executed last month resulted in a false Joel Osteen account that represented his point of view falsely, which indicated that he wanted to quit his ministry due to “lack of faith.” That of course was a false rumor drummed up by the creator of the fake Osteen account. But the scam didn’t stop there. As you know, ministries often ask for contributions or donations. Using that premise, the false Osteen account has reportedly made friend requests, offered jobs, and requested donations to Osteen’s ministry. In fact, Osteen is a particularly easy target and he’s been subject to a “dozen fake Osteen pages a week on Facebook for the past year,” reports the Houston Chronicle.
Authenticate Facebook profile scam
This type of hoax is rather tricky to identify as a scam, although most of us know that Facebook would never try to “authenticate” a profile. However, the email, linked URL, and format look familiar to other emails you get from Facebook so it’s understandable that some users would fall for a message saying that their account has been disabled.
What’s really clever about this scam is that when you click on the URL of the webpage, the site looks exactly like Facebook’s login page. But when you type in your login information, what you’re actually doing is typing in and submitting your information to a hacker. At the same time, many of these scams will follow up with another page asking you to fill in your personal details including name, address, social security number, or other personal information depending on how bold the effort is.
Fake virus warnings
The great thing about social networks like Facebook is the potential for content to go viral. The problem is sometimes that content is malicious, and it can spread like wildfire. A new type of hoax that’s been picking up according to Scambook is a fake virus warning telling users to scan for a virus called “Archive (Windows Live)” that’s the “worst ever” virus known to man-kind. The duplicitous part of the scam isn’t only about the fact that the said virus doesn’t actually exist, and the viral nature of this hoax (it’s already affected more than 35,000 users), it’s the fact that users have ended up Googling the virus and/or downloading antivirus programs, not knowing that many users end up downloading faux “antivirus” programs. Fortunately by now, “Archive (Windows Live)” searches come up with articles that disprove the message and chalk it up to being a hoax, but that doesn’t mean that future hoaxes like this won’t show up.