facebook is an online social networking service launched in February 2004 that allows and encourages users to create personal profiles, add “friends”, and update their status to connect with other users.  This resulted in an easily accessible site allowing a wide range of people to connect and interact.  Many people found this social service to be convenient and helpful at first. However, the easily accessible part of facebook began to be a problem.  By uploading pictures and videos of their private lives, people were unknowingly being exposed to strangers around the world.  facebook’s safety issues have been brought to light, as when status updates about vacations gave others a perfect timeframe for home robberies. But a new type of scam has arisen.
This year, a story with a picture of a beautiful seven year old girl posing in her cheerleading uniform made the rounds on facebook.  The most important part of the picture was the girl’s bald head: a sign of her chemotherapy treatments.  The story and photo exploded in popularity with messages of support and, of course, donations.  All this sympathy would be touching, except for one problem.  The photo was taken six years ago and the girl has since fully recovered; it wasn’t her family that posted the tear-jerking story, but scammers.  The girl’s mother expressed shock and anger at how people had used her daughter’s sickness and photo as an insidious way to make easy money.  Sadly, this is only one instance of many where people’s private photos are exploited for fame and/or fortune.  At times, people use it as a way to become popular or to garner sympathy, in others, money is involved.
This lying works because when posts get enough fans or “likes” on facebook from users, the ones who posted it gets opportunities to place advertisements on the page, and those ads automatically show up in all facebook users’ news feeds. These advertisements can include an app, game, or service they want users to buy or it could be a “recommendation” for a product on an online shop like Amazon. Therefore, the page owners get a commission for every purchase users made through the links, making money on top of the donations they already receive.

This can happen to anyone who owns a facebook account. I want to say to users - think before posting photos and videos on facebook. Nobody knows when and how his or her photos and videos are going to be used. While those sweet posts that fill users’ news feed may seem harmless, some of them are being used for nefarious purposes.

How do these scams spread?
  1. Wall posts
  • News feed is the most common facebook scams
  1. Chat/Private Messaging
  • Some of the recent 419 advance fee scams and identity scams make use of the chat and private messaging feature of facebook to solicit money from the victim’s friends.
  1. Groups and Pages
  • Scams also spread through viral groups and pages which promise something in return for you inviting your friends to also join the group.
  1. Rogue Applications
  • Applications are allowed and can pull profile information from its users.
  1. Fake Events
  • Lure participants into performing a set of actions like inviting their friends and posting links on other pages.
Some of the most common Facebook scams!
  1. Phishing/ Identity Theft
  • Hijacks facebook account by luring users to a webpage having a fake facebook log-in page
  1. Malware/Spyware infested links
  • A scam that also lures facebook users into clicking on a link
  1. Click/Like jacking
  • Involves luring facebook users into clicking on a link that accompanies a message that friends have “liked”.
  1. Subscription
  • A scam that lures users to unknowingly subscribe to a service that will automatically charge their mobile phone accounts or credit cards.
  1. 419 Advanced Fee scams/Romance scams
  • Involves convincing facebook users to send money in order to collect a lottery prize, to buy a nonexistent product.

Citation: "The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Scams |." Facecrooks. Bitdefender, Private Wifi, Abine: Do Not Track Me, 2009. Web. 25 Feb. 2014. .

- Eun Jung Park -
Image: Credit to Facebook


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