Spammy Facebook pages publishing posts about fake competitions that ask you to both share their posts and follow their pages to win a prize are as popular as ever. It’s perhaps the most popular type of like-farming. We explain how they work, how they can be dangerous and how engaging with them may put your OWN friends at risk.
Have you ever seen a post on Facebook purporting to give something away, just as soon as you like, share or comment on it?
You probably have. Fake Facebook competitions are one of the most encountered types of spam you’ll likely encounter on the site, and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. See a classic example below.
How they work
A spammer sets up a Facebook page (or event) and publishes posts that claim to be giving away a number of prizes. However the post stipulates that you must like and/or share the post, as well as follow the page, in order to stand a chance of winning. However, there are no prizes. The Facebook page is simply tricking people into sharing their posts and following them.
The Facebook post may say something like “share, comment and follow us to win” or “we have 10 unsealed units that we cannot sell. Share this post to win”“. When Facebook users share these posts, they are helping them spread across the social networking site, and making them more visible in the newsfeeds of other users.
This means that, amongst other things, these fake competitions are an example of like farming scams. That is the process of attracting followers through dishonest or manipulative ways. Offering something that doesn’t exist is certainly dishonest.
How are they dangerous?
It may seem tempting – a quick share, like and comment and you stand a chance of winning that latest Apple iPhone. The “just in case” justification entices you.
The problem with that is these pages often associate themselves with other dishonest activities, meaning you really don’t want to end up following them and giving them the ability to reach your newsfeed. Such pages may post links to spammy marketing webpages that are designed to harvest your personal information and spam you. In fact many of these posts purporting to give away prizes may also instruct you to click such a link to “qualify” for the competition.
If you follow these pages and help their posts spread, you’re giving them the ability to reach you – and your friends. And these like-farming pages have been known to post links to any number of online scams, varying from mildly annoying to outright sinister.
These pages have been associated with marketing spam, identity theft and even malware attacks.
Being the target of unsolicited spam, having malware downloaded on your computer or having your identity stolen are all potential outcomes of this type of spam, all because of a Facebook post telling you to like and share it to stand a chance of winning something.
How are you putting your own friends at risk
Quite simply, as a prerequisite for entering these fake competitions, you have to share them with your friends.
Sharing these posts will cause them to appear on the newsfeeds of your friends, who are thus likely to engage them as well, especially considering that within the realms of Facebook, seeing a friend share something often appears to infer that they have endorsed it.
How to avoid them
Avoiding these types of scams is overwhelmingly simple.
Firstly, if you see a suspicious post that you feel may be a fake competition, head straight over to the page or event that made the post and find out if it is the official page for whoever asserts to be running the competition.
For example, if the post is purporting to offer a free iPad, is the page the official Apple page? Just because it looks like it might be, it doesn’t mean it necessarily is. The official pages of brands like Apple are donated with a blue verification tick (see below) which fake pages will lack.
You can also look at the creation date of the page itself. Newly created pages are unlikely to be official brand pages and are likely to be peddling scams.
The bottom line…
These scams can be dangerous. There is no “just in case” justification here because not only do you put yourself at risk, but you put your social media friends at risk too.
Remember, on websites like Facebook, you need to act responsibly and stop clicking on any posts you find enticing. It could be your friends that ultimately pay the price.