HOW TO....

Top 10 scams and hoaxes on Facebook you should recognize in 3 seconds

Scammers' is a wild wild world. Here's our bad guy line-up that'll put some order in this chaotic universe.

          1. See who viewed your profile, and its countless variants

This is the scam of a thousand faces. Stalkers, peekers, greatest admirers, exes haunting you, people with a secret crush on you….or simple statistics of your profile visitors (broken down by gender)….this is the social engineering arsenal that resurfaces now and then.

It’s a never ending story still riding high and reeling in hundreds of users. Facebook DOES NOT allow any app to compute such statistics, so don’t give in to this temptation.

          2. Change Your Facebook Background

The grass is always greener and Facebook is always blue? Scammers have the thing for you:

At best, the final steps of these semi-scams take you to sites providing various add-ons which, once installed in your browser, make your account appear different. It’s like looking at a black horse through a white striped window and saying you see a zebra. You can have your zebra, as long as you make sure the add-on you download does nothing more than help you see virtual reality according to your sense of style.

          3. Facebook will start charging beginning with [date]; Facebook will close beginning with [date]

How many times have these hoaxes made your heart skip a beat? Too many?

Just double-check this kind of panic-inducing news before you repost it. End of Facebook, end of the world as we know it…well, who’s to say when that happens? As for the platform starting to charge for its services ….the answer’s on the wall:

Always is always, right?

          4. Add Facebook Functions: new buttons (dislike, love, etc.)

Hate to burst your bubble, but NO, you cannot add buttons to your Facebook account with various apps that spring up now and then. The Facebook crowd loves tradition (just think how many hearts were broken by the appearance of the Timeline) so any change to platform functionalities is sure to be debated at length. Again, just double-check whether the thing you want to install actually exists. If it does, you’re sure to come across heated online discussions on the new addition’s pros and cons. 

If, once you click to see the wonder, you get stuck in a sea of blind likes and shares, the button is definitely a false promise. Stop right there before you subscribe to tens of unknown pages carrying potentially dangerous content.

          5. Gift Card/ Cool Gadget Giveaways

If it sounds too good to be true… it’s a scam. A little math plus some research will keep you safe. Here’s how: in the example below, you’ve got $200 gift cards for the first 10,000 people who participate. That’s  2 million $ ….Look it up: is eBay really giving away that kind of money? If true, then the story should have made at least one headline. If not, chances are you’ll find out it’s all a lie.

          6. Like and share schemes using atrocious images (maimed animals, suffering children)

Social networks are known to have played an essential role in coagulating social movements or in raising awareness about various causes. Unfortunately, hoaxes that play the charity tune do a lot of harm because they create a constant feeling of mistrust and sadly mock the idea of solidarity.

Again, a quick online search will save the day and the cause (if any) as it’ll help you tell the genuine from the fake.

           7. [huge percent] of people cannot watch this video for more than x number of seconds

With these scams, it’s the thumbnail that does it: most of the times it’ll appear to be a pornographic image that’ll definitely arouse some interest.

If you cannot help but click, just make sure you don’t fall into the blind like and share trap or into the arms of its upgraded sibling- the fake add-on/extension/update that begs to be installed.

          8. [Celebrity x] dies / is caught doing scandalous act

To paraphrase a celebrity very much alive: death and sex make the world go round.

Curiosity is the name of the plague and unless you simply don’t give any animal’s rear end about the topic at hand, you’re pretty much a sitting duck for this kind of scam.

          9. See sex tape/naked photos of [celebrity x]

Leaked videos or photos that seem to answer any voyeur’s prayers? Just say NO.

Or, if you cannot hold your clicking pants on, just make sure what follows is not just another one of those “take this quiz” or “install this exe” tricks. Otherwise you may get
“lucky” in more ways than one!

          10. To see [hot topic of the day] install browser extension/add-on or youtube/flashplayer update

No matter what the pretext, the scam’s not over ‘till you install something. Preferably something unauthorized and phishy.

To deal with this kind of situation, just uninstall the fake browser extension/add-on. This is the only thing that will end the hijack and allow you to access your account.

If you do not know the steps, you can read them here for Firefox and here for Chrome. Of course, accessing your Facebook account from a clean browser is another option, but just a temporary one. Unauthorized browser add-ons/extensions can be updated by their developer and create even more issues.

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.

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