Thursday, May 9, 2013

How Facebook "like" scams work

You’ve seen those pictures posted on Facebook “type ‘move’ into the comments and watch what happens” or “If I get a million likes my dad will get me a car.” They seem innocent enough, but they are big business, and you are not doing yourself any favors if you like or comment. ...

It’s called Like Farming. Here’s how it works. Someone creates a page and starts posting photos inspirational quotes or other innocent content. You like the page and it now shows up regularly in your news feed. Anytime you interact with a post, that activity shows up in your friends’ news feeds. The more likes the page gets, the more it shows up. The more comments each picture gets, the more power the page gets in the Facebook news feed algorithm. And that makes it more and more visible.

The social engineering of these sites is impressive, stimulating pictures like the Pink Floyd image described above or moving stories of‘causes’ that need your likes for support. The most famous of these revolved around a girl called “Mallory

"This is my sister Mallory. She has Down syndrome (sic)and doesn't think she's beautiful. Please like this photo so I can show her later that she truly is beautiful." But there is no Mallory. The picture is of a girl named Katie whose mother is horrified that her daughter’s image is being used for the scam. ...

When the page gets enough fans (a hundred thousand or more) the owner might start placing ads on the page. Those ads show up in your news feed. ... Or more nefariously, the page owner could be paid to spread malware by linking out to sites that install viruses on your computer for the purposes of identity theft. Bottom line: access to your news feed is lucrative.

Just as a magazine that sells ads, these pages are a business, and they can be bought and sold just like any other business. Online message board, Warriorforum.com listed multiple sites for sale like this page with almost 500,0000 fans of hamburgers. Price tag to buy the site: $5000. Another site about cuddling has over a million fans and was listed for sale on Warrior Forum for $7000. ... I found this Friends TV show page for sale for $8500 but the Warrior Forum listing has since been removed.
--Becky Worley, Upgrade Your Life, on why you should stop "liking" those Facebook images. HT: Chris Blattman