For years, Facebook has been plagued with a particular type of Facebook post. Those that claim someone will donate money to a worthy cause for every like or share that particular post receives.
The posts often make claims like “we’ll donate $1 for each share this picture gets“, but may also claim engagement may result in prayers, and they’ll come attached to some emotive photo designed to pull at the viewer’s heartstrings.
However, despite the apparent good nature of these posts, they represent a sinister tactic that spammers use to attract engagement on social media, especially Facebook. A tactic that involves deception, exploitation, manipulation and often the theft of other people’s most precious or emotional of photos.
Some examples of these posts are below.
It is important to note first of all that posts that claim to donate money based on the amount of likes, shares or comments the post receives are fake. No company, hospital or indeed Facebook itself will donate money which is conditioned on the amount of engagement the post receives.
All of the above posts are examples of Facebook like-farming. That refers to the process of using deceptive or exploitative techniques to lure Facebook users into engaging (liking, commenting, sharing) with a post. There are many different examples, of which this is one of the most common.
The aim of these posts is to attract engagement so the post goes viral across Facebook, which in turn boosts the visibility of the page that published the post and attracts more followers to the page.
This then allows the crooks to spread more hoaxes, or even launch more sinister scams. It also presents the opportunity to sell the page to marketing companies eager to get their hands on Facebook pages with plenty of visibility and reach. Whatever the spammers choose to do, it’s for their own financial benefit.
And if exploiting Facebook users into thinking they’re helping children receive life-saving donations isn’t sinister enough, there is often an even darker twist. The photos the scammers use photos of children that are often stolen from other sources including news articles and charity fundraising pages.
Sponsored Content. Continued below...
The crooks take the photos without permission, remove the photos from their true context and make up their own stories, and then use them to drive engagement and traffic to their own Facebook pages. And there have been many cases where these like-farming posts have made their way back to the families of the children in the stolen photos. In at least one instance the child had since tragically passed away, yet their photo was still being used to attract engagement to like-farming Facebook pages.
In many cases that we’ve previously reported on, particularly dark or emotional memories are brought back to the surface as old photos of, for example of children in hospital, go viral across social media after crooks use them as part of their like-farming tactics.
These posts are designed to attract engagement both by exploiting and deceiving Facebook users. They are Facebook like-farming posts, and we strongly recommend users do not engage with them at all.