No, Facebook is not going to start charging users. I'm sorry, but no one is trying to give you a free gift card or iPad for taking a survey, and no, you will not be given access to an amazingly enticing video of the almost naked star on the beach.
In this post-holiday period with untold thousands of new computers and smartphones in use, Facebook is signing up tens of thousands of new users — including quite possibly your kids. So this is a good time to remind all Facebook users of the scams that are rampant on the social network, and exactly what they should be wary of.
The first are stories with headlines that seem impossible to ignore — Facebook is coming after your wallet, or, do we have a wonderful gift for you. Just click on this link to get the whole story, you are told, but click on the link and it is likely malware will be downloaded onto your computer intended to steal your personal information.
Another Facebook scam that appears to be very appealing to young users is a reputed new app that — if you download it — will allow you to change the color of your Profile from standard blue to a wide range of jazzier colors.
This scam gives a link to click on to get this app. It will ask you to "like" the app and authorize it to access your account (before it can work, you are told) but if you do it takes over your account, sends spam messages to all your "friends," and steals personal information.
Almost as enticing for many young — and not so young — Facebook users is an app that promises to allow you can see who is viewing (or has viewed) your profile. Once again you will be given a link, click on it, like the app and give it permission to access your account and you are in trouble once again.
Then, too, there is the ploy to get you to add an app that will give you a "dislike" button. Facebook allows a user to "like" a status update or picture, but dislike one — no. Add this app, you are told, and you get that ability. But like the other app scams, there is no such app and downloading it and liking it just gets you in more trouble.
So what can you do if you think you have fallen prey to one of these scams? To start, you should remove any references to the app in question from your profile and, at the same time, delete the bogus app from your account. Then check whether you are recorded as liking any apps, pages or sites you might never have heard of, and then "unliking" them by going to your timeline, clicking on the likes icon at the top of the page. Facebook has a scam page that tells you all this and more.
How serious are Facebook scams? Law enforcement authorities have just announced the arrest 10 people reputed to be involved in an international cyber-crime ring which netted the crooks as much as $850 million. The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice as well as law enforcement officials from other countries made arrests in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, New Zealand, Peru, the United Kingdom and the United States. A number of cyber-crime rings used Yahos malware downloaded on Facebook as part of the Butterfly botnet. The malware is linked to more than 11 million compromised computer systems and more than $850 million in losses.
Facebook's security team worked with the FBI to bring the cyber-rings down and to identify the victims affected by the malware.