Facebook has a way of bringing us all together, showing us the latest news, making us have great conversations… And annoying the hell out of us!! For many of us, it is a necessary evil. Some of us work in social media, we want to connect with friends and family, and we want to blow off a bit of steam. But, it can be this same group of people that we long to connect with… that get on our nerves! How? Usually by jumping on the bandwagon and sharing fake viral content, some of which is just a plain ole scam.
Over the past couple of days, you may have gotten a private FB message from one or more of your friends telling you that they've gotten another friend request from you. The message instructs you to hold your finger down and forward the message to all of your friends. DO NOT FORWARD THAT MESSAGE! It's a scam that some bored period created. Why? Who knows. I'm convinced that sometimes people create things just as an experiment to see if they can cause a ruckus or make it go viral.
Spotting a Facebook Scam
Every now and then something goes viral on Facebook. If we're lucky, it is a sweet video of a wedding proposal. Or maybe a video of someone who's never heard before hearing for the first time after having surgery. If we're unlucky, it's a stupid old-fashioned chain letter. Back in the day, people used to actually write letters, put them in envelopes, put stamps on them, and mail them to people telling them that they had to do XYZ or something bad was going to happen. Fast forward to the email age and people would actually write emails and send them to their friends and tell them that they must forward to five to ten people and then they would get $20 in the mail. And this would go on and on. Seriously?? Now with the takeover of social media, it's easier than ever for people to spread crappy chain letters, in a new form.
Over the years, we've heard that Mark Zuckerberg is going to start charging for Facebook unless we forward a message to at least 10 of our friends. We learned that if we forward a message to 20 of our friends Microsoft will send us a free computer.
Now? We are all being annoyed by a message saying that our friends are all getting friend requests from us that we did not send. The problem is that it's not true. As a result, people are copying and pasting the message to all of their friends. And others are posting Facebook messages on their wall saying, “I did not send a friend request”.
I had three of those messages sent to me yesterday. I asked each person, “Did you actually get a friend request from me?” They each said no.
So my question is… why would you copy and paste a message to all of your friends that reads, “I got a friend request from you.” if you didn't actually get it?? Think about that…
What Should You Do?
The social media rule of thumb is “Do not ever blindly forward (or copy and paste) a message just because your friends said to copy and paste it and or forward it. This is how incorrect information gets spread.”
All of these Facebook scams can easily be verified BEFORE sending by a simple Google search. Or better yet, go to Snopes.com and look it up. Chances are, you will see that it is false.
By no means should you be forwarding anything about any of these, or any other viral messages, like those that say, “let's make this go viral” to your friends using Messenger. This is a great way to get yourself blocked from sending them future messages. If it is really something that you want to share with the masses, just post it on your wall.
You may get a message like this from a friend and you just delete it. However, this means that they do not realize that what they are passing around is “fake news”. They will just continue to do so, and the cycle will go on. Some people are chronic repeat offenders. I have ignored messages in the past. But, I recently decided that it is my duty as an IT professional to alert them so that they stop. If I see a Facebook post, I usually comment and let them know that it is not true, and provide a factual link. The same if I get it by Messenger
Protecting Your Account From Scammers
Let's face it… social media hacks do happen sometimes. It's always a good idea to take steps to keep your account protected. Here are a few steps that you can take.
Use a Strong Password
Don't ever use a plain word, your name, or anything too easy to guess. Use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Most social networks including Facebook will allow you to turn on two-factor authentication to prevents false logins to your account. I have turned it on for Twitter, and I may do it for Facebook. To enable this, visit your Security and Login Settings.
If you use a public or work computer to access your accounts be sure to log out when you leave.
Lock Down Your Phone
Lord forbid you lose your phone and it does not have a pin code or fingerprint to unlock in=t. A dishonest person could find it and use it for wrongdoing. They could also access all of your accounts, post on your behalf, and wreak havoc on your social life.
Don't Access Third-party Facebook Connected Quizzes and Apps
Yes, there are some that you can trust. However, a lot of the quizzes or third-party apps that pass by your feed may not necessarily be tested as safe by Facebook. It could be these types of apps that give hackers access to your accounts. I know they all look fun, but just be careful.
Fill in the Correct Password Recovery Information
In the past, some people have felt paranoid about giving online sites and social media accounts real answers to security questions. But, in the event that you forget your password, you can't recover it if you can't answer the security questions. A lot of these questions are simple things like what is the name of your high school? or where did you meet your spouse? If you put fake answers when you create your account chances are if you ever do need to recover your password you will not know the answers to these questions. I've seen this happen to many of my social media friends. They then create a second account because they can't remember how to get into the first one.
Beware of Strange Links
Do NOT click any links in suspicious messages, even if they are from your friends. If it does not appear to be a personal message to you, ask them about it before clicking anything. If it's obviously something they are trying to “help make viral” delete it.
These are just a few of the steps that you can take to be a part of the solution, and not the problem, with spreading fake social media news.