Facebook Hoaxes, Scams, and Malware

What are Facebook Hoaxes?

Hoaxes are a type of scam meant to deceive others. They are easily spread through the social networking website Facebook.

Cartoon Character Profile Pictures Origination Hoax

In November and December 2010, Facebook users were told to change their profile pictures to a cartoon from their childhood. Shortly after the start of this Facebook Meme, rumors started circulating that it had been started by pedophiles to have children add them as friends more readily and wasn't to help raise awareness of child abuse. These claims have been highly unsubstantiated and proven false in some cases.

Facebook is Overpopulated

Many emails and groups have popped up on Facebook claiming that the site is becoming overpopulated and will start charging for its use. All these claims are fake. Facebook was created to be free. They would lose much of their user base if they started charging as many users would choose a different social network.

See Who's Viewing/Stalking Your Profile

One of the most popular scams on Facebook are groups or applications made so that you can see who has blocked or viewed your profile. Facebook prohibits these activities. As such, all of these applications are phony. Many contain viruses and other malware that could hurt your computer. 1

Group Hoaxes

Groups sometimes claim that if you join, you will get anything from a free iPhone to free FarmVille perks. These are not true. By joining the group, you will be asked to refer other friends, but none of you will ever receive your promised perks. 2

Other groups have special images and videos only available once you join the group. Many of these start with the acronym "OMG." You will then be required to invite all your friends and have to jump through some other ridiculous hoops. It's essentially a scam to get information from you. Some of these contain viruses or links to external websites that require information that is later used for identity theft. 3

Fake Accounts

Fake Soldiers

Scammers have taken real pictures of military personnel and created fake profiles for them. They then try to friend women, pretend to be in love with them, and ask them for money. They'll often provide fake documents claiming they need money to register for things like phone calls with soldiers. The media noticed an increase of these fake profiles in early 2011. 4 5

Fake Females

Scammers have been known to create fake profiles for attractive women and friend random guys. These users will then post links to inappropriate content or sites that contain malware. They also often contain nudity that is, in itself, not allowed on Facebook.

Celebrity Scams

Justin Bieber Hitting a Girl Scam

In January 2011 a message circulated Facebook telling users to click a link that would supposedly lead to a video or picture of Justin Bieber hitting a girl for no reason. These messages started off with phrases such as: "OH MY GOD!...Justin BIEBER Hits Girl For NO Reason!" and "OMG! This Is So Badd!" 6 Of course this photo/video does not actually exist. Instead it gives the scammers access to your account, allowing them to send messages, post on your wall, and steal your personal information and friend list. 7

Fake YouTube Pages for Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and Emma Watson

Fake links will try to entice users into clicking them by saying things like "Sick! I lost all respect for [celebrity name here]." These links lead to a fake YouTube page concerning the celebrity in question. The fake page will display a warning that says "Please Watch this video only if you are 16 years or older." Clicking on links in the page will actually send a like click to Facebook ( this is known as a clickjacking attack), causing the virus link to be sent to all your Facebook friends. The link will also ask you to complete a survey to verify your age (scammers get a commission from the survey companies). 8 9

So far this scam has been associated with celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and Emma Watson. 10

How Can I Keep Myself Safe?

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Be careful what information you're sharing online.
  • Report known scams and hoaxes to Facebook
  • Never enter your login credentials on untrusted third-party sites or inside of Facebook groups.
  • Do not accept friend requests from people you don't know
  • Be careful and avoid joining pages that require you to give them permission to access your information and/or post statuses on behalf of you.

Where Can I Learn More?

Read some of our newswire reports on Facebook scams and hoaxes: