Last Friday, Facebook representatives were put on alert regarding a new form of spam that was hitting many members of the popular social networking site. Since then, Facebook has successfully defeated the spam, although it still should raise some caution among the site's users.
At first glance, the spam looked rather harmless. Some users reported receiving messages from their friends that said, “LOL is this you?” Accompanying the short message was a link to a video. The video link appeared be hosted on Facebook, and clicking on its link would lead the user to a page that read “404 Page Not Found.”
Although it seemed like much ado about nothing, users reported that the same “LOL” message was sent from their accounts to other friends, creating a chain reaction. At the same time the mysterious message was making the rounds on Facebook, many users documented it on Twitter out of suspicion to see if others were also receiving it.
Facebook reported that the messages originated from user accounts that had been compromised. Therefore, although it appeared as if friends of users where sending the messages, it was actually spam using the compromised account as a disguise to infiltrate other accounts. In order to combat this, Facebook stated that they block accounts that they feel have been compromised. If the account's owner wants to regain access to it, they must go through several steps to prove they are the rightful owner. In addition, Facebook has automated systems in place to detect spam applications and disable them, or they are sometimes notified by users themselves of suspicious activity within the site.
This is not the first time that such a spam message has popped up on a popular social networking site. Last February, many Twitter members reported seeing similar messages. For example, messages such as “Lol. this you??” and other close variations to it appeared within the site and were followed by a link that had the Twitter name embedded in it to appear official. This phishing attack was apparently used in efforts to hack the usernames and passwords of members.
While social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have safeguards in place to protect users against spam, it is also important to use common sense when logged into the sites. If you see a message or link that is suspicious, do not automatically click on it. If it seems rather impersonal, or is out of character from the messages you would typically receive, it could very well be a form of spam. You are better off ignoring the link, and should post something out of suspicion to see if the message was legitimate.
For more on this topic, visit: http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-20014977-245.html
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