Facebook scams & protecting your data

09/02/2019

Your personal data is probably the most valuable asset you have.

It can be used by fraudsters to fleece you of all you own, take out credit cards and open accounts in your name, and leave you in debt.

This is a bit of a hobby horse for me. The proliferation of scams shared by friends and family often makes me consider closing my facebook account

We're quick to blame social media for not doing enough to protect us, and while they do have a responsibility to help, if we keep posting and sharing  the wrong things, we are part of the problem. It doesn't take much time to check before you share.

'Like' farming

Does it matter if I 'like' on facebook? Here's the answer from Snopes: https://www.snopes.com/death-hoaxes-like-farming/

'One reason is "like-farming." Facebook's algorithms in particular emphasize popular content, and therefore gathering "likes" and "shares" receives a high premium. Sometimes, it's just an annoyance - maybe that kid really does want a hundred thousand "likes" so that a Victoria's Secret model will go to a school dance with him, so he's inundating people with appeals (although that's doubtful at best) - but more often, the intent is scammy. Like-farmers will gather clicks, which denote popularity, then scrub the original content and replace it with something else (usually a scammy ad of some sort) to bypass Facebook constraints. Facebook has moved to quash this behavior by adjusting their algorithms, but of course, some scammers' efforts always get by the online gatekeepers.' 

By liking these images, you can help scammers bypass Facebook's security protocols, and provide access to your data.

Clickbait

Again from snopes: 'And then there's clickbait. That tantalizing snippet of information where you have to click past the summary in order to read the rest of the story? That's clickbait, and it's nearly an art on Facebook and Twitter. It's also called response-farming, and according to Consumer Affairs, it's often used by existing, legitimate companies in order to increase their online profiles. It's also used by scammers to direct unsuspecting people to click on their ads - another, more complex form of that like-farming scam. Falling for clickbait can also lead you to malware, which can infest your computer, share things without your knowledge or consent on social media, or worse.'

Competitions

Many competitions on Facebook are also scams, and allow access to your data. If you're not sure, check out the Facebook page which posted the 'competition' - if it is a reputable company, they should have a long history of verifiable information and posts, along with proper contact information. I recently saw a Thomas Cook competition for a free holiday, and if you went to the 'Thomas Cook' page, it had only that competition as a post - not likely for a realy competition.

Truth

In this age of false information, we have need to play our part in not sharing false information. Pictures can easily be faked and doctored, and often those that pull at our heartstrings the most, like the 'sick childs classmates refuse  to wish him happy birthday/'  or the ones saying we need to catch / find this person. These can be libellious in some instances, but also are used to access your data, and that of your friends.

Manipulation

Many Facebook posts also use the 'if you don't share you don't agree / like / love me' or variations of this. These too can be used to collect likes, collect your data and worse give access to your friends data. Would you really expect your friends to do something to prove they like you / agree with you if you were seeing them face to face? Should we use this kind of manipulation on one another. I never repost these on principle.

There is an excellent article here on a range of Facebook Scams:

https://www.thestreet.com/technology/cybersecurity/facebook-scams-14746513

Protecting your facebook data:

- limit the information you put in your profile - never use your real date of birth, and ensure that there is no actual address information available.

- Google yourself to make sure no one is using your data online without your knowlege.

- Check before you share - it's easy to either trace the post to its source, or check the veracity of the information on Snopes.  https://www.snopes.com/

- If in doubt, don't share!

Your data is valuable - be tech savy, and be careful what you share!