A warning is spreading across social media that claims a photo of a little disfigured girl is circulating on Facebook and that it is a “Trojan Horse Virus”.
The warning urges Facebook users to pass the message on by copying and pasting to their own timeline. An example of the warning can be seen below –
Just seen this being posted ‘Do not open the photo of the little girl disfigured circulating on Facebook, it is a TROJAN HORSE virus!!!. Copy / paste on your wall. Please. Thank you!’
However the warning does not appear to be valid and we can find no threat that matches its description. In fact a similar warning about avoiding links that contain a photo of a disfigured girl were spreading across Facebook back in 2013 in a longer format. That warning looked like this –
URGENT – DO NOT (!!) OPEN THE PHOTO OF THE GIRL WITH THE DISFIGURED FACE CIRCULATING ON FACEBOOK, OR THE VIDEO THAT SAYS THAT YOU APPEAR ON IT, OR ACCEPT INVITATIONS FROM THE BIRTHDAY CALENDAR…They are POWERFUL COMPUTER VIRUSES named “TROJANS”. DO NOT OPEN the video/pic of the girl who commits suicide, or VIDEOS that come and say “FX” (there are several) like the one of the dog with two legs. DO NOT OPEN ANY PAGE THAT SAYS “WHO VISITED YOUR PROFILE”. These pages HAVE V-I-R-U-S-E-S that AUTOMATICALLY get FORWARDED TO YOUR CONTACTS… BE CAREFUL ALL!!!!
Even back then, the warning was not particularly useful, and just like its 2017 equivalent, the warning is far too vague and misleading to be of use to anyone. For example, the warning doesn’t explain how this supposed scam even works. Does the photo link to an external website, or does it lead to a Facebook App? Is the photo spreading through links on Facebook or through chat messages? None of this is explained, so even if the scam did exist, there is not enough information provided to be of any use.
Additionally, the warning mentions a “Trojan horse virus”, which alone is sufficient enough to demonstrate that the author of this viral warning doesn’t really understand the subject of online security. A Trojan Horse and a Virus are both indeed variants of computer malware, but they are two different things that spread in two distinct ways, and as such there is no such thing as a “trojan horse virus”.
Be aware though that Facebook like-farming scammers will often use photos of injured, sick or disabled children to lure Facebook users into interacting with Facebook posts and following pages. More on that here.
Yes, we should be careful about what links we choose to click on and what websites we choose to visit on the Internet, and yes, malicious links can indeed be posted onto Facebook. However, this doesn’t mean we should disseminate misleading or vague warnings like the ones above since this is more than likely going to cause more confusion and detract from a very serious issue.