The Structure of a Facebook Scam

You think it’s harmless, at its worst maybe it”s just mean or even stupid. I know because some of you have openly said as much. But those heart-wrenching, manipulating Facebook shares that go viral are anything but harmless. That funny pic you just shared with all 400 people on your friends list? You’re making somebody else money.

What, you say? You read it right. You’re making someone else money. How, you ask? It starts when someone creates a page…

1. This page put out a constant stream of heart wrenching and/or mildly amusing images that are shared publicly with a call to action to click, share or comment.
2. These posts are initially shared by a big group of people all in the same network who have all built up their edge rank over a period of time that then results in the posts eventually leaking into the news feeds of real-life accounts.
3. These people share, like or comment which then spreads.
4. Eventually a friend of yours hits that little thumbs up button
5. It’s in your news feed.

Within 3 days a post like this has 120,000 likes and shares, and someone is about to make a tidy profit by selling the page to a business wanting some quick wins. If you see a post about sick kids with rare cancer who lost their family to a horrible fire and if you don’t click like then 100 children will get cancer from terrorists – it’s not real … but somebody’s making money exploiting you for it.

Not convinced? Try this on for size: That snappy little “new nickname” post you just responded to and shared with all your friends – what did it ask you for? Your mother’s maiden name, the name of your first pet, your birthday and the street you grew up on are usually the same fields used for password security reset questions.

Still think it’s all harmless? I didn’t think so.

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