There's a lot of antisocial activity happening on the world's largest social networking service, as malicious individuals plaster Facebook with annoying and often dangerous posts. Following a link in one of these posts may pop up a survey that you need to fill out before proceeding, phishing for your personal information such as phone numbers, account names and passwords. Of course, the promised content doesn’t exist.
It may take you to a site proclaiming you the winner of something wonderful, if you’ll just fork over all your contact information or sign up for a service.
It may take you directly to a web site that installs malware on your computer just by visiting the site.
The fact that these messages appear to come from trusted friends and family members makes the situation even worse. And to add insult to injury, clicking on a fraudulent link inevitably posts the same scam on your own wall, to sucker your Facebook friends as well. However, by following the suggestions here, you can minimize your chances of falling for Facebook fraud.
- The “sniff test” is your most important line of defense. Does the post really sound like something your friend would share? Does the language sound right? Is the promise too good to be true – free airline tickets or food, for example?
- Alarm bells should go off if a link wants to install an application in your Facebook account, especially if that wasn’t the subject of the link. Before Facebook installs anything, it takes you to a permissions page, where you should be suspicious of any requests to post to your wall, or your friend’s walls.
- Keep up with the latest Facebook shenanigans. The easiest way is to Like two Facebook pages that will automatically post updates on newfound threats to your news feed: Sophos Security and Privacy and Security Guide. The keeper of my favorite resource, Scam Sniper, recently decided to stop posting updates and took down his Facebook page. His blog site is still live, though, with lots of useful fraud-fighting articles and tips.
- Another useful online tool is a free service from the familiar Norton Security folks called Norton Safe Web. It will automatically scan links appearing in your news feed postings during the past 24 hours, let you know which are safe, and flag potential problems.
- Legitimate and malicious postings alike often use tools like bit.ly to shorten the text of link postings. The tricky part is, you can’t tell where the link will take you until click it. If you’re suspicious, go to www.expandmyurl.com. Cut-and-paste the shortened link text into the provided box, hit the “expand url” button and all will be revealed.
If you do end up with scam spam in your Facebook news feed, hover your mouse over the message until you see a small “x” in the upper right corner. Click it and you’ll get a drop-down menu with three choices, including “Mark as spam.” That’s the one you want, to both remove the message from your feed and alert Facebook to the problem.
Beyond removing the message, you’ll want to make sure you haven’t accidentally installed a rogue app that will keep using your Facebook account without permission. Your destination for this task is the Account Settings page (under the Account dropdown at the top right of the page). Here’s you’ll find the Privacy section, and on that page an entry that lets you “Edit Your Settings” for “Apps and Websites.” Here you can call up a list of all the apps installed in your Facebook account, and easily remove any you know are malicious, or you simply don’t recognize.