Much like most of the East Coast of the US, I was snowed in a few weekends ago. That only meant one thing: lots and lots of social media surfing. Amidst my binge-eating and scrolling, I noticed that my timeline was inundated with a ton of stick figures. To say that piqued my interest would be an understatement.
You’ve probably seen posts like these, all proclaiming that you should try to be more like Bill than anything else. But these seemingly harmless, funny memes are much more sinister than they appear. These posts, and similar Facebook videos and quizzes, are actually stealing your information.
How Do They Do It?
You’ve probably seen these posts, especially while you and your friends were stuck inside due to the blizzard. They may seem like a fun way to ease boredom, but they actually are what is known as “clickbait.” Clickbait is a term used to describe “content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page.”
The Better Business Bureau warns against posts like “Don’t Be Like Bill.” These posts are seeking to obtain your private, personal information. That information is then shared with an undisclosed third party. Emily Valla of the Better Business Bureau warns that before you decide to Be Like Bill you should first check the link, or hover over it, before clicking it. This could prevent you from becoming victim of a phishing scam.
‘Be Like Bill’ isn’t the only information-stealing scam out there. There are tons of them, including the “Most-Liked Photo" or promises of shocking video footage. These posts could also claim to be giving away gadgets and prizes for free; which really means at the low, low cost of your personal information.
How to Avoid Falling Victim to Facebook Phishing Scams
- Use Secure, Hard to Decipher Passwords. This goes for all of your accounts. Hint: ‘123456’ is not a secure password.
- Check Links Before You Click. Hover over them to make sure they will direct you where they claim to.
- Consider the Source. If it doesn’t seem like it came from a legitimate, credible site, scroll on.
- Did Your Friend Like this? Your friends may not actually like what Facebook says they do. They could have fallen victim to click-jacking or a hack.
- Don’t Login. No credible site will log you out of Facebook before providing information. If it does, leave the site immediately, without entering your login info.
- Use Good Judgement. If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.
- Report. If you suspect a post is spammy or a scam, report it. The entire Facebook community will (silently) thank you for it.
While receiving a new iPhone, your perceived IQ score, knowledge of your most-liked photo, or a personalized meme sound awesome; they could come at a greater cost than you are willing to pay. Consider if your personal data is worth receiving these senseless goods? In short, think before you click.
Have you ever clicked on 'Bill' or something similar? Let us know what happened in the comments.