Must the show go on?

Likejacking banks on Japan tragedy.


Why is it that people are irresistibly attracted to the tragic, the macabre, the terrifying? This question has been on the minds of the most acute observers of human nature for centuries. A whole plethora of explanations is there to help us cut through the thicket of the apparently inexistent motivations of this “dark voyeurism”.

Is it that they need to be shaken, to feel their most intense emotions come to life under the very power of the visual stimulus? Do they consider it to be a cathartic experience (then again, with the invasion of blood-and-gore-themed videos, aren’t they about to get a catharsis overdose?) Is it that they need to SEE the unimaginable for themselves so that otherwise unthinkable facts become real? Is it that the comparison with their (hopefully) less tragic experiences will make them feel better about themselves and bear the feats of destiny more easily? Is it that the re-visiting of the sites of terror accelerates the mental and emotional healing process?

Complicated as one’s motivation may be, this fascination with the dark side of things is here to stay (remember the not so old “girl who killed herself” stratagem?). And so are those who will see a tragic event as just another opportunity to be exploited for whatever gain they can think of.

Earthquake and tsunami-stricken Japan is no exception to this rule. A recent likejacking campaign uses as bait a video about a whale apparently being smashed into a building through the sheer force of the tsunami.

The social engineering ingredients poured into this witch’s brew are top quality: a warning that the video contains GRAPHIC content and the promise of witnessing the defeat of the mythic marine monster, the WHALE. Feel the surge of excitement at the thought of seeing with your own eyes Aspidochelone being spat out onto shore and turned into the main character of a momentary thriller? In this case, a click is mandatory (!?1?).

And on goes the suspense building mechanism! You must be at least 16 to watch the terrible show. Reverse psychology kicks in to ensure the likejacker’s success.

As described in the previous chapter of our likejacking saga, if you click to see the video, there will be an automatic post on your wall in which you apparently LIKE the link to the respective content and, thus, indirectly endorse and recommend it to your friends.

While this may appear to be nothing more than an annoying trick, just think about what “liking” content on the social platform entails and you’ll get the whole picture in an instant. In simple terms, once you’ve liked a page, you’ve “subscribed” to it and, therefore, to any content that might be placed on that page later on. If, instead of using that page to broadcast video content, the likejacker decides  to set it up for phishing, for instance, and if the post that leads to it remains on your wall, then both you and your friends are exposed to the risk of data theft.

Therefore, think twice before clicking links to shocking video content, pay attention to what page you land on and look for any automatic fake Like posts. Using the platform- provided Remove and unlike link option you can get rid of this little pest that has the potential of turning into big trouble.

This article is based on the technical information provided courtesy of George Petre, BitDefender Threat Intelligence Team Leader.

We would also like to thank Matt Barry, our extremely vigilant friend.

All product and company names mentioned herein are for identification purposes only and are the property of, and may be trademarks of, their respective owners.

About the author

Ioana Jelea

Ioana Jelea has a disturbing (according to friendly reports) penchant for the dirty tricks of online socialization and for the pathologically mesmerizing news trivia. From gory, though sometimes fake, death reports to nip slips and other such blush-inducing accidents, her repertoire is an ever-expanding manifesto against any Victorian-like frame of thought that puts a strain on online creativity. She would like to keep things simple, but she never does.