Bamboozled: October 8, 2015

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For years, Facebook users have asked for a “dislike” button — a way to react to other users’ posts without “liking” it.

That’s because there are times when it doesn’t seem appropriate to “like” another user’s comment, such as when bad news is shared. But still, users want a way to acknowledge adislike comment, express empathy or share support.

So when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social media giant was working on another option, scammers saw an opportunity.

And people are falling for it.

Scammers have created several kinds of “invitations,” promising users they can get the new “dislike” button ahead of everyone else.

You may see the lure on your friends’ newsfeeds. Or you may receive an email from someone purporting to be Facebook.

Users are instructed to click on a link that will get them that sought after new button. If you click, it will bring you to a page that impersonates a Facebook page. To activate the new button, it says you must share the post and send the post to five groups that you belong to on the site.

But following the instructions won’t activate anything because the button doesn’t exist.

Instead, according to several security web sites that followed the instructions to see what would happen, users are taken to several different kinds of scam sites that try to trick users into sharing personal information.

“The crooks will redirect you to one or more revenue-generating sites – in fact, this eventually happens even if you don’t Share and Send the original link as stated,” said security site Naked Security.

It said in its tests, it ended up on two bait-and-switch sites that had nothing to do with Facebook.

One was a get-rich-quick scheme, promising you could earn $1,419 in the first hour, the site said. The other asked the user to participate in a survey.

“Typically, the crooks will have signed up as affiliates for the surveys or software downloads you’re being offered, and will be paid a small fee if you sign up,” Naked Security said. “That’s how they make their money.”

If you fall for it, you end up giving away your private information, and you’ve enticed many of your online friends to do the same.

“The key thing about this and many other Facebook scams is that they rely on word-of-mouth advertising,” said Paul Ducklin, senior security advisor at Sophos, the folks behind the Naked Security site. “And because the whole thing is a pack of lies, the only way the crooks can get you to ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ their page is to tell you that you need to do that first, in order to qualify for whatever super-special offer they claim to have on the go.”

Ducklin said social networking scams typically ask you to pay up front – with your ‘Likes’ and ‘Shares’ – for something you haven’t even seen yet.

“That’s like a notary certifying a true copy without sighting the original – dodgy! – so don’t get suckered into doing it,” Ducklin said.

If and when Facebook releases any new features, they will be part of Facebook itself. You won’t need to click through to third-party sites in order to get the button.

OTHER SCAMS ‘ROUND FACEBOOK

Another recent Facebook hoax claimed that the site would soon start charging 5.99 Euros — nine bucks and change — to keep your account private.

“If you paste this message on your page, it will be offered free (I said paste not share) if not tomorrow, all your posts can become public. Even the messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed…”

When Bamboozled saw this one on our page, we called bull immediately.

To keep your control of who can see your posts, simply visit the privacy section of Facebook, and you can decide who can see what you put out there. It doesn’t cost a dime.

This scam isn’t one that will cost you any money, risk your personal information or infect your computer with malware. It’s just a time suck that will stay alive the more people post and re-post.

Then there’s the one that encourages you to post some legalese to supposedly protect your intellectual property rights on Facebook.

“Due to the fact that Facebook has chosen to involve software that will allow the theft of my personal information, I state: at this date of January 4, 2015, in response to the new guidelines of Facebook, pursuant to articles L.111, 112 and 113 of the code of intellectual property, I declare that my rights are attached to all my personal data drawings, paintings, photos, video, texts etc. published on my profile and my page. For commercial use of the foregoing my written consent is required at all times,” the post said.

First of all, posting something like this wouldn’t legally help you at all. When you sign up for a site like Facebook, you’re agreeing to the company’s terms of service. If the company makes a change, you have to be on board in order to use the site.

Next, Facebook has said in response to similar hoaxes that it just ain’t so.

“When you post things like photos to Facebook, we do not own them,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement. “Under our terms you grant Facebook permission to use, distribute, and share the things you post, subject to the terms and applicable privacy settings.”

If you don’t like it, you can control your privacy settings.

Or you can simply delete your account.

So the next time you see something that resembles these fakeries, don’t “Share” or cut and paste and post. Instead, do a quick Google search and you’ll probably find the hoax debunked.

Or send Bamboozled a message and we’ll check it out for you.

Have you been Bamboozled? Reach Karin Price Mueller at Bamboozled@NJAdvanceMedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KPMueller. Find Bamboozled on Facebook. Mueller is also the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com.