Facebook consists of a vast community of “friends” who are interconnected to one another in a multitude of ways. The whole thing can be both overwhelming and amazing.
Throughout a typical Facebook session we can see people we don’t even know pop up out of the digital woodwork to comment on and “Like” things that we or our friends have posted.
Unfortunately, this amazing web of connections makes it easy for scammers to disseminate false information and trick their fellow Facebookers into doing all kinds of things they wouldn’t do otherwise (i.e. “Like” a page that they really have no interest in whatsoever).
All things considered, Facebook does a great job at removing the scam and hoax posts that are brought to their attention, but the job is simply overwhelming due to the sheer number of people who use the site on a daily basis.
Many of the scams and hoaxes floating around Facebook are written in ways that make them sound both reasonable and compelling.
Here’s an example of a hoax that circulates around Facebook quite frequently:
As of July 31st at 7:29am Eastern Standard Time, I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future. By this statement, I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of p09rivacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 and the Rome Statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates.
Privacy is indeed something to be taken very seriously on Facebook, but it’s wise to keep in mind that all of your account’s privacy settings must be changed on your Privacy Settings screen and/or on your individual posts themselves.
Also keep in mind that you cannot change Facebook’s Terms of Service (TOS) simply by posting a statement like the one above on your Timeline.
Facebook’s TOS is a list of rules and limitations that we all agreed to when we first opened our Facebook accounts, and you cannot change those terms simply by posting a change you’d like to see on your Timeline.
That’s sort of like trying to change the interest rate the bank charges on your mortgage simply by posting an open letter in the local newspaper. It’s not going to happen.
Another common type of hoax to be aware of is the “Like my page and receive an iPad!” type of deal. The items supposedly being given away are almost always of high value, and you must “Like” the poster’s page in order to receive it.
While there are plenty of legitimate contests running on Facebook at any given time, they will NOT promise that everyone who likes their page will receive a high dollar prize.
A fairly reliable way to check whether a privacy-related post or some type of offer is real or not is to type an excerpt from it enclosed in quotes into Google and see if any “scam” or “hoax” notices pop up in the search results. Chances are they will.
And remember, the old adage that we have heard all of our lives still applies in the Internet age, only double: “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”
In summary, I recommend that you always remember the following:
1 – You cannot unilaterally change Facebook’s Terms of Service.
2 – You will not be given a new iPad, a gift card or anything else of real value simply because you “Liked” a Facebook post because such a generous giveaway would probably bankrupt the supposed giver.
3 – Facebook is not going to start charging regular users a fee for using their Facebook accounts.
4 – Anything that makes you wonder “How can they do that?” should be taken with an entire shaker of salt, not just a grain.
5 – Read the text of the posts that land in your Newsfeed or arrive via Messenger very carefully before you take any kind of action on them.
The vast majority of scam and hoax posts will provide several obvious clues that it’s a scam or hoax right in the post. If something doesn’t seem reasonable (or even possible), it’s virtually certain that it isn’t.
6 – Messages that contain typos or serious grammar errors were not written by Facebook or any other legitimate company.
Those entities realize how poorly such errors reflect on their company and they take great pains to ensure that everything they put out is spelled correctly and (for the most part) grammatically correct.
7 – Any post or instant message that includes a phrase worded something like “Forward this to all your contacts” is a hoax. Every single one of them.
Bottom line: Knowing how to avoid scams and hoaxes on Facebook is essential for ensuring a safe and enjoyable Facebook experience. The tips mentioned above can help you recognize and steer clear of them.
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