Clicking on the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) “Like” button might not be as harmless as it sounds. A recent CNN report explains that with scammers abounding, you may be doing more harm than good by clicking on the “Like” or “Share” button of a Facebook page.
How the Facebook scams work
It’s all about “likes”. If scammers can get a lot of people to “like” a Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) page they set up, the page becomes a valuable commodity in that it can be quickly redesigned and repurposed to sell products.
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The scammers prey on your good intentions to get “likes”. All those sweet or heart-wrenching posts seeking “likes” that fill your news feed seem harmless enough. However, it turns out they’re often just “bait pages” for scammers. Internet crime experts say scammers are using Facebook for their scams in growing numbers today.
“The average user doesn’t know any better,” said Tim Senft, founder of Facecrooks.com, a Facebook scam monitoring website. “I think their common sense tells them it’s not true, but in the back of their minds, they think ‘What if it is true? What does it hurt if I press like?’ or whatever.”
Scams can be a direct threat
If the owner of a scam page has access to Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s developer tools, it is possible collect a variety of personal data about anyone who likes the page. This kind of personal information, including gender, age and city can then be used for more sophisticated attacks. A new Facebook page may also be used to spread malware, or even phishing, that is, collecting credit card numbers, passwords and the like through links to fake contests or free gifts.
Steps you can take
According to Senft, scammers can typically only get away with their scams for so long. However, it takes lots of reports before Facebook will take down an offensive or misleading image, never mind take the final step of shutting down a page. The best approach, Senft says, is to stop and think before sharing.
“If it sounds too good to be true, don’t click on it. If it’s something that’s obviously geared toward tugging on the heartstrings, check it out first.”
A Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) spokesperson said the company is continually working to make sure high-quality content is seen by users, and that low quality content is seen as little as possible. The spokesperson also emphasized that Facebook is doing everything possible to diminish the reach of posts that appear to be “like farming”.