OMG! Facebook newsfeed still polluted by spammy scam video links. Who would have thought it?

Last week Facebook announced that it had taken steps to clean up users' newsfeeds to fight the growing problem of, amongst other things, spammy links:

Some stories in News Feed use inaccurate language or formatting to try and trick people into clicking through to a website that contains only ads or a combination of frequently circulated content and ads. For instance, often these stories claim to link to a photo album but instead take the viewer to a website with just ads.

I wondered at the time what impact this might have, if any, on the scams that are frequently seen - reposted from Facebook users' accounts (normally without their knowledge) after they have been tricked into clicking on a link or duped into taking an online survey that is only designed to make fraudsters cash.

Well, I soon got my answer. Thousands of users have been spreading what appears to be a link to a distasteful video of a woman in her underwear being trodden on and sexually assaulted by her "friends".

Facebook scam

OMG Girl ended up in emergency after Friends did this forcefully with her

so shameful, can't even call them friends

[LINK]

(I have redacted parts of the image above, which is shown in more gruesome detail in the examples spreading across Facebook)

Another version reads:

[Painful Video] Friends did this to her forcefully and she ended up emergency

[LINK]

Links like this typically lead to websites that ask you to re-like the link, or share it with your Facebook friends, before it will allow you to view the purported video content. On other occasions they can lead to malicious downloads and drive-by infections for visiting computers.

In this particular case, the fraudsters have monetised the campaign by tricking you into taking an online survey or entering an online prize draw which earns them commission.

Facebook survey scam

The fraudsters earn affiliate cash by getting you to complete a survey, and can trick the system further by resharing the link from your account to pass onto your online friends and family.

Of course, the real YouTube site never asks you to complete a survey before watching a video.

So, I think Facebook has a lot of work to do still - right now the stream of information showing up in users' newsfeeds still contains too much pollution.

If you are on Facebook, and want to be kept updated with news about security and privacy risks, and tips on how to protect yourself online, join the Graham Cluley Security News Facebook page.

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6 Responses

  1. Coyote

    April 16, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

    Disclaimer: I am averse to social media and especially facebook but of course they do have a lot of work to do with privacy and security (which are both related), from what I've read over the years (and recent news). While I cannot expect them to be perfect, I'd like to hope they would be a bit more careful than they truly are (and that Mark Z. has had his 'wall' – is that what it is ? *shrug* – compromised more than once says a lot).

    That out of the way, what I find more alarming is that _anyone_ would even _dream_ about following a link when it specifically says:

    " OMG Girl ended up in emergency after Friends did this forcefully with her
    so shameful, can’t even call them friends"
    Never mind the awful grammar – no one is perfect and in the case of scams it is often is good: it is a red flag – like "forcefully with her" (instead of TO her). Never mind the other (I hope!) fabricated things. What really bothers me is that anyone would look at that and actually FOLLOW the link (let alone watch it or not stop it if it automatically played). Really? You think rape (I can only assume that is what it is but either way if ended up in emergency at hosp. it is assault and rape is exactly an assault only worse than say, beating) is okay? It's an act of violence, nothing less, perhaps more (like disgusting, degrading, complete and utter violation, immoral, one of the lowest things that anyone could do). I cannot fathom how anyone would follow such a despicable thing, fake or not. I thought for a long time that anyone (many facebook users) thinking the entire world cares what [they] are doing 24/7 is flat out sick (addicted to attention – putting histrionics and hypochondriacs, perhaps combined, to much shame – in a very unflattering and unattractive way.) But this? Scary… sad… disgraceful… humanity…

    As for facebook: they really should be ashamed of themselves in this way (just like the video they allowed of some groups decapitating a woman.. I think that was it?). No, they cannot control all users or be expected to moderate everything 100% of the time without failing. But I seem to remember years ago it was made law (I don't know which countries besides the US) that web site owners had to inform people signing up that if they are not > 13 years of age that they need parent permission (or something like that). Whatever happened to that? And if there were legal ramifications (which I seem to remember there were – i.e., the owner was responsible for misuse or some such) for that then there most certainly should be for:
    – fraud
    – spreading malware (= spreading spam attempts if not success, risking networks, wasting resources, …)
    – disturbing videos that could cause flash backs for victims (of similar traumas), seriously damage adults and then kids more so. There's a big difference between a film, as in acted, a game, and a real video (and unfortunately facebook allows the latter of very disturbing kinds). And if it is a film, well, most corporations have the common decency to inform (prior to showing) the would-be viewer that there is potentially disturbing content (whether that is because it is a documentary or because it simply depicts disturbing things, is irrelevant) and to view only if you can handle it.

    It's entirely possible though, seeing as how politicians are nothing but dirt, that maybe they haven't even gotten to writing such laws let alone voting on them. One would hope that is not the case but I have to wonder (not to be a cynic or anything but I never did trust politicians, even as a kid)….

    And huge thanks and much respect to Graham for actually being decent enough to redact part of the image. It's a bloody shame that facebook cannot do that (and unfortunately, my usual intended pun is by no means intended here, not in the truest sense of the words: I used bloody in an expression unrelated to blood).

  2. StephenKWH

    April 16, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    Coyote and Graham,

    Regarding the senseless stupid ass violence inflicted on others and the media companies jumping on showing this lowlife shit, unfortunately these is nothing we can do to stop it. It is no longer out of control….it is IN control.

    All that is left that you or I can do is to look the other way when this multimedia garbage shows itself, and also to pack heat to protect yourself if you are physically attacked.

    • Coyote in reply to StephenKWH.

      April 17, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

      I'm quite well aware of the videos existing being impossible to prevent (but that's different from addressing them*). But what _I_ was getting at is this: it isn't so outrageous that facebook (compared to what I was getting at) cannot get their act together (let alone secure the site, let alone make up their mind – including about disgusting videos etc., do I need to go on? I think no) anymore than it is with other companies and these things. What _is_ outrageous is that people actually would _follow_ with the video and that is just beyond disgraceful. Having known people who have been raped (and me being the only one they confided in) and also still having friends that have been through the same, I cannot fathom how anyone would want to watch this (observe it was a scam they used to gain a profit but what was it based on? Reprehensible – at best – acts).

      As for not doing anything about that, I beg to differ, on multiple levels:
      1. Had a friend (that I sadly lost contact with) who breached a pedophile site (this was many years ago), made some changes to their service so they would be exposed to the authorities (and there used to be and likely still is groups like 'etchical hackers against pedophilia').
      2. What about pedophile rings that are busted in this day and age?
      3. Corporations are legally (well, in some places) responsible for reporting abuse, I thought?
      4. The fact sites typically have a 'report [whatever]' means that they CAN do things. Whether they choose to or not is another issue entirely. That's a pretty obvious example.
      5. Police respond to shootings, stabbings, robberies, list goes on.

      Key difference: you cannot stop every single crime but you can do your best to stop what you personally can stop (e.g., point 5) and when something is already done you can (at least if there existed a proper justice system as opposed to a legal system… that's another issue entirely) report to authorities so that proper 'justice' can be done (which some times it is properly done which is good; unfortunately, when it is improper or not justice at all, it ruins someone else's life and also potentially disregards the victim. However, given that lawyers create the laws – go figure – it is no surprise that it is a legal system).

      Bottom line: you cannot stop people from making videos, you're absolutely correct. However, you can expose them and you can stop them (at times, like if you witness it.. scare them off – after examining the situation and judging whether you will be able to do it safely – or call authorities or…). As for facebook, well, that they let a video of an execution of a woman through decapitation says a lot about their morals….

      As for turning my head the other way: I don't have to worry about these videos anyway: noscript blocks them and I – as I noted – don't use facebook (or any social media; in fact, I'm asocial generally speaking and I've been called a recluse which is actually pretty accurate). Further, I don't watch TV.

      However, make no mistake: if I ever saw someone abusing an animal or a person, it would be very bad for them, very bad indeed. There ARE things that can be done and I don't think Graham's point was about that anyway (and neither was mine especially). I think his point is facebook still has a lot of work with its privacy and other issues it is known for hence the title including "facebook newsfeed still polluted by spammy scam video".

      *Similar is you cannot stop people from committing murder or other heinous acts but that does not mean the authorities should say "well, we didn't want it but we were unfortunately not there; oh well, life goes on – for us. let's hope for the best next time". Now whether I am interpreting your words correctly or not, that is how I interpret them (or rather that is the logic I am reading which is not how it works and neither is it valid or true: you have to make the best of situations and in general it is about how _you_ as a person respond and act upon [whatever] and it is not about _someone else_)

  3. wineloker

    July 5, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

    to remove annoing OMG video file, you need to scan computer with anti-virus, clean it if virus was found, then you need to remove google chrome from your computer and use IE or Opera … in IE you can accsess to video file and you need to remove it from timeline, the option delete is not functioning… after removing from timeline, report it as spam, and you and your friends will be pleased because no more videos shall appear…. hope this was helpfull….

  4. Mr.Y

    August 17, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    I have been receiving a Funny Omg Video but it won't open.

  5. Seann Giffin

    August 31, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    I use AdBlockPlus with Element Hiding Helper and a custom HOSTS file (along with Linux instead of Windows), and I have to say, I have the cleanest Facebook browsing experience of almost anybody else I know. I highly recommend it!

    Perks: immune to Windows malware, over 90% of ad sites blocked, anything (and everything!) from an entire domain to specific elements on a page can be hidden (for example, the "Like" button, whose usage on Facebook muddies the news feed with keywork matches based on "Like" profiling"), and the stuff you do want to see loads faster without the garbage in the background.

    Since I haven't had a "Like" button for the last two weeks, my news feed had become noticably cleaner, and everything else I dislike about Facebook (including the transparent 1-pixel tracking .GIFs and the "Recommended" and "Advert" stuff from the right-hand column) is hidden.

    I highly recommend all of it. But if you don't have what it takes to break your MS-Dependency and switch to Linux, at least get Ad Block Plus, and Element hiding Helper (available for most major browsers) and Google an "ad blocking HOSTS file". Mine is 1720022 bytes (yes, I know that's ridiculously large but it works). HOSTS Pro-tip: instead of using the default "127.0.0.1 ad.server.net" change it to "0.0.0.0 ad.server.net" – reduces load time by not attempting to find the ad-server on your local machine.

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