E-Threats Social Networks

Turn Blind Eyes to Remove Timeline Scams

Get your [colors of the rainbow] Facebook and its kin back in business, parallel legitimate “Timeline removal” movement just a matter of perspective

Ever since the Timeline entered the social media scene, plenty of angry voices clamored for their Old Facebook in high pitched diatribes against the blasphemous Facebook account makeovers. Scammers exploited protesters’ arduous cries and went about their business along two main lines: change Facebook colors or Remove Timeline altogether.

  Recent developments show plenty of new viralization tricks are in store with these beauties (classics such as Post to Profile and Share seem to be going out of style). You’ve got:

a)      Game-like requests sent to hoards of friends

b)      A nice page-long story about the installed extension being completely virus-free.  VIRUS TOTAL’s word!

c)       Invitations to underground activism for the creators of the Timeline-disabling tool, accompanied by soft warnings playing the emotional blackmail card (“We do not like people who are not following our steps, so let’s all play fair”.)

d)      The crème de la crème of treachery: creating Facebook ad lookalikes that stimulate virtual word-of-mouth advertising.

The Facebook account customization craze has been riding high for some time now and we’ve even got a stream of legitimate apps that promise to embellish virtual socialites’ houses of (communication) pain. High-profile recommendations about various extensions that enable you to change the way you see your account boost profile customization drives and we’ve now got ourselves a nice dilemma on our hands: how to tell a good Facebook re-decorator from a bad one?

First off, if the app or extension/add-on you’re about to install asks you to pay respects to its artistic skills before you see them at work, just say no. You do want to see the app/extension promise turn to reality before you blindly like dozens of unknown Facebook pages, share messages of praise or resort to other platform-specific recommendations.

Second, as the current trend indicates extensions/add-on installation as the preferred method for account customization scammers, take a look at the details listed in your browser’s tools repository. This is where you can read reviews of the tool you’ve installed and get a sense of how popular it is.

Third, make sure you fully understand the risks of installing a browser extension/add-on. Simply put, while an extension may look ok (even when checked with VirusTotal) for the moment, you never know what scripts it loads every time you open a new Facebook tab. If checking for scripts loaded from third party sites sounds like Chinese to you, then you might want to think twice before hitting any install buttons. That way, you avoid placing any data you type in your browser at the discretion of unknown extension creators.

Fourth, consider how much you really want your Timeline to change. Even with a legitimate app, the most you can achieve is to see your account and everyone else’ s accounts through the tinted glass of the installed extension. Everybody else will see your account’s non-enhanced look because their browser’s vision hasn’t been tampered with…so to say. In other words, you’d just be lying to yourself.

This article is based on the technical information provided courtesy of Tudor Florescu, BitDefender Online Threats Analyst and Andrei Serbanoiu, Bitdefender Analyst Programmer.

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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