Considered to be one of the highlights in the social networking timeline, Facebook has spawned from a college-based site to a global service that enables users to communicate and share varied stuff with just a few clicks. It provides a platform for companies, politicians, celebrities, and people from all walks of life to market, publicize, and express themselves. However, with all this concoction, Facebook makes a perfect place for abusers to prey on unsuspecting users. Last 2012, around 15 million phishy-looking pages were hosted by Facebook. This article reviews five of the most notorious Facebook scams, hoaxes, and attacks that has infected the internet these past months. It wouldn\’t really be an astonishment if some of them look familiar.
One of the most notorious techniques for hoarding likes and shares is reaching out to human emotions. Scammers have executed this so well through posting images of sickly children with a caption that every share and like is equivalent to a prayer. These even went on claiming that Facebook will donate $1 for every share, which of course was not true (Facebook officially denied such claim). The image below speaks for itself and is one of the classic examples of viral chain and spam messages that has plagued the internet for months.
Everyone wants to be a hero once in a while and there\’s certainly nothing wrong with that. However, even though how much we want Facebook to donate for such “noble” cause or how we would love to convert the shares into prayers or even into a few bucks for charitable purposes, this isn\’t just going to happen. These pages exist for another cause: advertisement. When the post and the page accumulates enough number of likes, the creators can sell the page for money, which definitely goes straight to their pockets.
Basically similar to the previous strategy, these scams use unsuspecting Facebook users who wouldn\’t mind clicking the like and share button to try their luck in winning the latest iPad, iPod, and Tablet. Sadly though, luck is not involved and chances of winning are essentially zero. As in the first hoax, pages like these coax viewers to like and share their post to be considered for the freebie or giveaway. When the page farms a number of likes and share, the owners then sell these pages and earn some cash from it, without even breaking a sweat.
As everyone wants to get in touch and be updated with their favorite celebrities, a lot of phony celebrity profiles are created in Facebook. Such pages can range from that of entertainers, bloggers, politicians, and even clergymen. These fake profiles start out as hoaxes, hoarding likes and shares by posting pictures and links related to the faked identity, but can sometimes lead to scams. Using their celebrity status and influence, these phony accounts ask for donations which they claim are for a good cause, but are eventually revealed as swindle.
Having Facebook in various flavors such as green, red, and black sounds exciting right? Well, scammers have figured that one out and made the famous Facebook Green, Red, and Black. These themes transform the native blue scheme of Facebook into “cool” green, red, or black (as shown in the image below) depending on user preference. First, the post will instruct users to like their page or join the group. They will even require users to share the status for more publicity, and sadly, more victims. After that, they will either ask targets to answer a survey or to install an unwanted application.
The first option, which is answering a paid survey will enable the crooks to collect money as these methods often require users to log their mobile or credit card numbers for payments. The latter, on the other hand, will prompt a script masked as an application for download. After installation of the app, one\’s log-in information and other private details will now be recorded and will be available to the scammers. Some victims report that they are unable to access their accounts and see inappropriate posts on their profile.
Curiosity killed the cat. True enough, a fair amount of users are interested to figure out who “stalked” or visited their profiles in the last few days. An to answer that longing was the viral Facebook hoax– Who\’s Viewed Me AKA Who\’s Viewed My Profile, Top 5 Friends Who Viewed My Profile, etc. As mentioned, the application or trick was supposed reveal a user\’s profile visitors but as you can well guess, it does not. Facebook itself, has see to it that matters like this, concerning privacy and security are not be disclosed for the public.
What these applications actually do is that it prompts users to like the page, therefore advertising it. Much like the Facebook Black scheme, the Who\’s Viewed Me scheme asks users to take on some surveys, eventually relaying precious personal information such as mobile and credit card numbers. Other versions of this scam require users to download browser extensions and apps that will enable cyber criminals to gain access to private data. After sometime, users will just realize, they just got phished.
With the peak of these scams and hoaxes this year, Facebook has responded positively and has dealt with these pages appropriately. As of February 2013, Facebook claimed to have removed approximately 37% of spammers nested on the site. True enough, one can rarely see unhealthy posts perpetuated by these scams and hoaxes on news feeds and information dissemination has been effectively executed via anti-cyber crime organizations and Facebook Security pages. Still, the best way to keep one\’s Facebook account secure is to be a smart netizen, that is, to always think twice before liking a malicious page or post or before downloading or installing browser add-ons from untrusted sources.