Today I am updating you about Facebook farming, which is a type of scam I warned you about four days ago in the Scam of the day for February 4th. We have all seen Facebook postings urging us to click that we “like”them. Sometimes it is an emotional appeal to show support for a sick child. Sometimes it is to show support for a political message. Today’s version of the scam illustrates another version of the scam. In this version a familiar company promises a chance at a substantial prize merely for liking or sharing an offer. In the one copied below, it appears Southwest Airlines (which they misspell as South West Air) is offering free first class tickets to anywhere in the world along with $5,000 spending money to the winners of this contest. A savvy traveler will know, by the way, that Southwest does not have first class seating.
While some of the postings described above urging people to click on links or share the posting are legitimate, unfortunately sometimes they are not. Often they are done to take advantage of Facebook’s algorithms that value the popularity measured by likes and shares which then appear on the Facebook pages of more people. Although the original content liked or shared may appear sincere or entertaining, the scammers who use this technique, which is called “farming,” then are able to change the content to something entirely different from what was originally shared or liked. This can be done for purposes of sending advertising or gathering marketing information, but, at its worst, it can be used to send malware infected content that can steal personal information from your computer and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.
So what should you do? Posts that promise some sort of prize for sharing or liking are most likely scams. If you think that the posting of a company offering a contest might be legitimate, you should go to the company’s website to find out if indeed it is legitimate or not. As for the other scams, you may wish to be a bit skeptical before automatically sharing or liking a post. You may wish to even do a little research yourself to find out if the posting is legitimate. A 2007 photo of a seven year old Pennsylvania girl with Stage IV cancer posing in her cheerleading uniform has been used numerous times for Facebook farming. Today that girl is a cancer free teenager whose family is understandably outraged that their daughter’s photograph has been abused by scammers through Facebook farming.
Here is a copy of the scam contest appearing on the Facebook pages of many Facebook users.