As with most places online, Facebook has its fair share of people willing to trick others for their own gain. The end goal of many of these schemes is to either gather sellable information, like emails or passwords, or to get the victim to install malicious software.
Being aware of how these scams work can help stop their spread, so if you spot one, make sure your friends know too!
Don’t Automatically Trust Apps!
There is no such thing as a "dislike" button on Facebook, despite many apps claiming to add one.
Facebook Apps are programs developed by third parties (that is, not by Facebook) that can do any number of things. However, since Facebook can’t check each and every one of them, they don’t necessarily deliver what they promise.
One of the most common ruses is an app that claims to show you “who’s been looking at YOUR profile!” These cannot work, as Facebook does not share that info. But downloading the app will still give the developer access to your profile information, which you may not have been willing to share otherwise.
Before installing any apps, double-check the profile info it’s asking for access to. Any legitimate app should tell you why it’s requesting specific info. For instance, an app that lets you edit pictures has a reason for requesting access to your photos. A horoscope app does not.
If your “friend” is acting suspicious, think twice!
There are quite a few schemes that take advantage of people trusting their friend’s profiles. However, there are usually warning signs, if you know what to look for.
If you get a friend request from someone you’ve already added on Facebook, it could be someone attempting to “clone” your friend’s page by copying their name and profile picture. Or, if your normally reserved friend starts posting “juicy” celebrity gossip links, their account may have been hacked. Those links probably lead to spam sites.
If in doubt, it never hurts to check with your friend first and ask.
Don’t Click the Click-Bait!
Here is an example of an adorable kitten. You're welcome.
“Like” if you love kittens! “Share” if you love puppies! …Who doesn’t?
These types of items are sometimes called click-bait, and it’s not always harmless. Unscrupulous page owners can post items that tug at your heartstrings, gathering hundreds of thousands of “Likes.” And once they have enough people subscribed to their page, they can strip the page and post whatever they’d like – anything from spammy marketing materials to malicious links.
Sometimes these owners will go so far as to create a false story, backed up with stolen photos; a child with cancer, or a family who has lost their home. If the story is legitimate, a quick Google search should confirm it. However, if the post doesn’t contain any identifying information or info on how to help, it’s probably not true.
Facebook can be a great place to catch up with friends, or just pass some time. As long as you take some basic precautions, you can help keep it spam free. Your friends will thank you!