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”.
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.
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.