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July 2016: Recognize and Avoid These Popular Facebook Scams and Hoaxes

Think twice before sharing that Facebook status. The anatomy of an Internet hoax is simple. They’re often just plausible enough to be true — but outrageous enough to shock — and contain elements that provoke an emotional reaction. As the most popular social network in the world, Facebook is fertile ground for hoaxes and scams, which quickly go viral as people share posts from friends they trust. Before you heed the plea to share a post or click a link, take a few minutes to make sure you’re not falling prey to one of these popular scams.

Facebook to Start Charging Users.

Despite the fact that Facebook clearly states on its homepage that the site “is free, and always will be,” variations on this theme continue to pop up. Some versions of this popular urban legend include pricing details, or claim that it was confirmed by the news; almost all of them promise that if you copy and paste the update on your own wall, you’ll be exempt from having to pay. Regardless of how credible it may seem, Facebook has made it very clear that they have no plans to make users pay a fee just to belong to the site.

“I Can’t Believe [Celebrity] Did That!”

There are multiple variations on this particular hoax, which often presents as a video thumbnail accompanied by a salacious headline implying that a celebrity has done something outrageous. If you’re lured into clicking on the video, you’re often prompted to share before being allowed to see the video, or redirected to a malicious app that promises to show you once you’ve given the appropriate permissions – and once you’ve clicked “Accept,” the app proceeds to spam all your friends with the same type of video that tempted you. Other versions of this scam might force you to fill out a survey (and provide personal information that can then be used to spam you) or redirect you to an external site that infects your computer with malware. Avoid clicking on videos with scandalous headlines unless they’re from a reputable site. You can see what the source is by looking beneath the title.

Find out Who’s Viewing Your Profile.

This scam feeds on both ego and natural curiosity – it is human nature to wonder who’s been checking you out, so it’s not surprising that this is such a prolific hoax. You’re promised that if you click on a link you’ll be able to see every person who has looked at your Facebook profile – sometimes accompanied by an eye-catching headline that promises to show you who has been “stalking” you – but like the video hoaxes, these links just lead to malicious apps or websites. In order to protect the privacy of their users, Facebook doesn’t allow anyone to view their profile visitors, and there are no legitimate third-party apps that can do this, either.

Malicious Scripts.

Malicious script scams promise new features – such as the ability to see who views your timeline or add a “dislike” button to your posts – if you copy a piece of text into your browser’s address bar. Instead, the text is actually a script that hijacks your Facebook account to spam your friends and create events and pages. Avoid links that claim to be able to add new features to your Facebook account. Legitimate updates come directly from Facebook, not some fly-by-night third party.

Sick-Child Hoaxes.

You may think you’re doing a good thing by sharing posts about sick children, but in some cases, you may be causing the family even more pain. One particular post that’s been circulating for a few years, for example, shows a photo of a child and her mother with the claim that if it gets shared a certain number of times, the child will get a free heart transplant. In reality, the little girl in the photo, Zoe Chambers, passed away in 2008, and her mother Julie was distraught to find out that her daughter’s photo is being circulated across the social network. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to only share such posts when you know the family. If it’s a stranger — and especially if some type of compensation is offered for each like or share — don’t repost before you research.

An article by Jacqui Lane posted on eHow and summarized by WOUGNET's Technical department

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