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. Often it is a post related to a missing child. Curiously enough, many times the description of the lost child is the same, namely the child is wearing black Converse with red and purpose shoestrings and a zip-up hoodie. Sometimes these appeals are legitimate, but 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. 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.
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