Facebook Hoax Means Felony Charges for High Schooler

•October 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

You have to take everything you read on the Internet with an entire shaker of salt, but authorities in San Diego aren’t messing around with terrorist threats and identity theft, even if you’re a high school student trying to bully a classmate.

A 14-year-old student at Rancho Bernardo High School recently made a Facebook page under a classmate’s name. He then used the account to post threats about the school, claiming that he was going to start a shooting spree. Neither of the students ever had any intention of hurting anyone physically, but authorities don’t take kindly to this kind of joke. When a parent noticed the Fb page, she contacted the school. The school then contacted authorities to report the threat.

The police immediately questioned the boy whose identity had been used to create the Fb page. It quickly became obvious, though, that he didn’t know anything about it. A little digging lead them to a classmate who had been bullying the young man. When asked, the bully admitted to creating the page, but claimed that he had no intention of hurting anyone at school. He had created the page to harass his classmate.

The authorities carted the kid off to Juvenile Hall and charged him with felony accounts of identity theft and making terrorist threats.

That kid really could not have chosen a worse way to bully his classmate. The whole world is currently looking to cyberbullying as a serious crime that can lead to death. Throw in the threat of a school shooting, and you get a recipe for jail time, even if you’re a minor.



Dog Parks Threatened by Tainted Cheese

•October 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Last July, something terrible happened in a Buenos Aires dog park: someone wrapped nails in cheese and left them strategically placed around the canine playground. You can only imagine what happened when the happy pups found that someone had left them these unexpected treats.

Fast forward three months and you would think that this horrific prank was happening at every dog park in the world, especially if you get most of your daily news from Facebook. Recently, this fact turned into a rumor that a deadly trend had started in dog parks. According to the misinformation, people have been leaving deadly pieces of cheese and bowls filled with antifreeze at dog parks. There are a few variations of the rumor, including the following:

New trend at dog parks, nails in pieces of cheese, if you take your dogs to dog parks, please be careful!!

DOG PARK ALERT: We have received two notices. (1) Nails wrapped in cheese at dog parks in Chicago and Massachusetts. (2) from some friends that in Augusta Maine dog park, antifreeze is being found in doggie water bowls. Please beware and be careful and PLEASE SHARE and spread the word!

It’s interesting how an isolated incident in Argentina quickly warps into a prolonged trend at locations in Chicago, Maine, and Massachusetts.

The people spreading this rumor are almost certainly dog lovers who want to make sure that dogs stay safe when they go to the park. The fact of the matter, though, is that this trend isn’t happening. Of course, you should always keep an eye on your canine friend when you visit the dog park, but there’s no reason to get overly paranoid about intentional dangers.

The Onion: It’s Not a Scam, It’s an IQ Test

•September 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Not all misinformation that you see on Facebook is the result of scams and fraud. Some of it is just the unbelievable gullibility of certain people who don’t know that the Onion is a satirical newspaper. Serious, now. Who doesn’t know about the Onion?

One of my personal favorites that caused an uproar on Facebook was about an “$8 billion abortionplex.” According to the story, the government planned to spend $8 billion building a gigantic abortion clinic.

When the Onion published this story, Facebook lit up with comments asking how Planned Parenthood could act so cruelly and how people could stop this from happening. A lot of people prayed that the abortionplex wouldn’t get help and wondered what had happened to American society. All of these comments would make sense… if the article weren’t such an obvious joke.

The website Literally Unbelievable has started keeping track of Onion articles and tweets taken seriously by Facebookers. You could spend hours gasping at how gullible some people are. One recent post on the headline Scientists Trace Heat Wave to Massive Star at Center of Solar System gor the Facebook comments “What loony teabagging conspiracy nut came up with this one,” which proves once and for all that there are plenty of liberal morons as well as right-wingers.

Another terrific post on the headline “Social Security Scam Robs Elderly by Convincing Them are Dead” says “Some people are so gullible. Yep, that just about covers it.

Seriously people, it’s not a scam. It’s an IQ test.


Facebook’s Gold Membership

•September 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

A lot of Facebook users seem to live in perpetual fear that their social networking site will start charging subscription fees. It seems that a scam about Facebook membership fees pops up at least once a week. It happens so frequently that it’s often difficult to tell where when scam ends and the next begins.

Just because the Facebook fee rumor keeps spreading, though, doesn’t mean that sensible people fall for it, or really care that much. There are, after all, plenty of other networking sites that they could choose.

Recently, though, a new take on this rumor took things to a whole new level. Instead of saying that everyone will have to pay a membership fee, this rumor became a little more believable by suggesting that users could retain their free memberships, but that they would have limited access to certain features. Paying members, however, would enjoy the benefits of the Gold Club.

The rumor became so widespread that some Facebook users even started using a fake Gold Membership images as their profile pics. Although this helps spread the rumor, inciting more gullible members, it also became somewhat of a joke for those in the know.

The truth is that there is no Gold Membership for Facebook. As this blog has reported before, Facebook doesn’t have any plans to start charging members. That presumably means that it won’t charge any of its members. After all, it’s one of those rare sites that actually makes money from advertising. Why would they want to jeopardize that?

How Prevalent is Likejacking on Facebook?

•September 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Facebook has made it extremely easy to share videos with friends. That’s largely a good thing for members, but it’s also made it easy for clickjackers to spread infected videos that can go viral within hours. Clickjacked videos can cause various problems. More often than not, they’re just annoying. When someone clicks on an infected video, it posts a message to that person’s Facebook wall. That often causes embarrassment, but no real problems. Some clickjacked videos, however, steal private information from the person’s computer. The hacker can then use that information for identify theft.

Clickjacking is obviously a concern for Facebook users, but exactly how worried should you be that a video will cause problems?

The security company Symantec recently did research showing that about 15 percent of videos shared on Facebook were clickjacked. That’s not a huge percentage, but it’s enough for concern.

Avoiding clickjacked videos, however, isn’t as difficult as you might think. More often than not, you can avoid them by staying away from suspicious content. If a video claims to feature celebrities in compromising positions, unbelievable news reports, or nudity. Clickjackers most often use these types of content to attract viewers. If it looks like something you REALLY want to watch, then you should probably avoid it.

Also, avoid videos that seem out of character for your friends. If you really know someone, then you probably know what kind of video he or she would want to share with you. If it seems off, then it’s probably a scma.


A Classic Scam — Now on Facebook!

•September 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

You wouldn’t send $2,000 to an unknown address based on the suggestion of a stranger. At least, hopefully you wouldn’t. But what if your own sister told you that you couldn’t pass up this deal. That she had paid a $2,000 fee to apply for a federal grant that could net her as much as $500,000. That’s a big pay off, especially when the advice comes from a trusted source.

Perhaps you wonder why the government would want you to pay a $2,000 fee to apply for a grant. But, hey, the government does crazy stuff sometimes, and, besides, we all know how badly it needs money right now. So you find a way to convince yourself that this all makes sense, and you wire the money to an account.

Well, guess what? You’ve just been scammed.

Posing as someone to gain the trust of another is a classic scam. “I’m your long-lost nephew!” Now it has come to Facebook, and it’s pretty convincing.

Here’s how it works: a scam artist finds a way to steal your sister’s Facebook password. He then logs in under her name and communicates with you. After a couple weeks, he uses the information that he’s slowly gotten to concoct a story. In this case, send $2,000 to get a grant. The story could also be “I’m in trouble and need $500 immediately!” Regardless, it always involves sending money without verbal confirmation.

How can you protect yourself from this hoax? For one thing, always talk to your friends and relatives before sending them any money. If the scammer can impersonate your sister’s voice, then maybe he deserves some cash.

Nigerian Scammers Set Targets on Facebook

•September 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Nigerian Internet scams have largely been spread through emails. You would find an odd email in your inbox, open it, and find a poorly written message about princes or lotteries that desperately need a small investment from you. In return, you will reap great rewards!

By now, everyone and your grandma knows that these scams are total BS. That can mean only one thing: scammers had to get creative by invading Fracebook, where they can pose as people you think you know.

There are several possible ways for them to set up these scams. Some times, the scammer has stolen the login information of your friend or relative. This allows them to take over the profile of someone that you trust. They might even exchange messages with you over the course of weeks or months. And then one day you get a message about how your uncle has a wealthy friend in Nigeria who is willing to pay top dollar to someone in the United States willing to move his cash overseas.

Some scammers even set up generic profiles that could look like people you know. For instance, the scammer might set up a profile under the name Granny or Uncle Sam. Then they send friend requests to as many people as possible. It’s just a different take on the basic phishing scam. Not many people will fall for the hoax, but the scammers only need a few people to make it worth their while.

This means Facebook users now have to stay prepared for phishing schemes that attempt to take their hard-earned money. Scrutinize every friend that you accept and keep an eye out for any of your friends that start to behave oddly.