Facebook is becoming saturated with scams. Many times they come in the form of a phishing attack, where the cybercriminal is trying to steal your credentials. We actually just warned you about one of these that was making the rounds over the weekend.
Another type of hoax that's becoming very popular is the like-farming scam. You guessed it, there's a new one that you need to know about.
What's the latest like-farming scam going around?
Like-farming is just what it sounds like. Scammers post a story on Facebook for the purpose of cultivating likes and shares. Based on the way Facebook works, the more likes and shares a post has, the more likely it is to show up in people's News Feeds.
This gives the scammer more viewers for posts that trick people out of information or send them to malicious downloads. The story they originally post normally has nothing dangerous about it. Only after the post gets a certain number of likes and shares does the scammer edit it and add something malicious.
What's going around now is an urgent message warning people not to take a certain medication. It says it is a new, very white and shiny paracetamol labeled P/500.
The post claims that doctors are telling patients that the pill contains the "Machupo" virus and is one of the most dangerous viruses in the world. Now, we're not talking about a computer virus here, we're talking about a virus that a human would contract.
Not only is this message showing up as a post in users' News Feeds, but some are even receiving it as a message from their contacts in Facebook Messenger. Here is an example of what the message looks like:
The warning in this post is not real. It's intended to scare people and share it with everyone on their contacts list.
Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah commented on the warning and said the Machupo virus is not able to survive in a dry environment like one of these pills. He also said this virus is spread through rat urine or feces and the public should not believe warnings like this posted on social media. If you ever have concerns about taking medication you should consult your physician.
If you see a post like this in your News Feed, it's a good idea to report it to Facebook. That could help stop it from going viral. Here is how to report a post:
- Click the downward pointing arrow in the top-right corner of the post.
- Click Report post or Report photo.
- Select the option that best describes the issue and follow the on-screen instructions.
How to avoid like-farming scams
There are many scams on Facebook and most of them can be used for like-farming. A popular one, for example, is a post that asks you to like or share so you can win something. There have been several recently claiming to be from a travel agency, offering a free trip to one lucky person who likes and shares the post.
You will also frequently see posts that are allegedly from someone who recently won a large sum of money from a lottery. If you like and share the post, you could get a share of the winnings.
It isn't just posts either; it can also be pages. A scammer might set up a page for "I love kittens" or what appears to be a worthy company or organization.
Just enough content is posted to get a ton of likes, then the scammer switches the content for spam and or malicious links that could infect your gadget. Once you've liked the page, everything new the cybercriminal puts up goes on your News Feed, and in some cases, your friends' feeds as well.
Follow these tips and they will help you avoid Facebook like-farming scams:
- Your best bet is to be very judicious about what you like and share on Facebook. Don't just reflexively click "like" on everything.
- Take a look at where the post is coming from. If it's from someone you don't recognize, it could be a friend of a friend or it could be a complete stranger. It would be good to find out.
- Notice the content and whether it promises anything for liking or sharing. If it does, it's a good clue that it's a scam of some kind. The same goes if you feel pushed or pressured into clicking like or share.