Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On Facebook, clicking 'like' can help scammers

It's an image that tugs at the heartstrings. A smiling 7-year-old girl poses in her cheer leading uniform, circled by a ring of pompous, her bald head a tell tale sign of her chemotherapy treatments.
The photo hit Facebook last year and popped up all over with messages of support. "Like" to show this little girl you care. "Share" to tell her she's beautiful. Pray for her to beat cancer.
But here's the truth. The photo was nearly six years old. And neither the girl, nor her parents -- who never posted it to Facebook -- had any idea it was being used that way.
Welcome to the world of Facebook "like farming."
Those waves of saccharin-sweet posts that sometimes fill your news feed may seem harmless. But all too often, they're being used for nefarious purposes. At best, a complete stranger may be using the photos to stroke their own ego. At worst, experts say, scammers and spammers are using Facebook, often against the site's rules, to make some easy cash.
And they're wiling to play on the good intentions of Facebook users to do it.
"The average user doesn't know any better," said Tim Senft, founder of Facecrooks.com, a website that monitors scams and other illegal or unethical behaviour on Facebook. "I think their common sense tells them it's not true, but in the back of their minds, they think 'What if it is true? What does it hurt if I press like?' or whatever."

more @ cnn.com

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