Only yesterday I had a little rant on Facebook urging my friends to stop falling for the scams that kept showing up in my news feed. It wasn’t until some told me that they were unaware of the new social media low that I realised my initial news didn’t reach as many as I hoped. So here’s an update, in my own words, to help clarify it for people who use social media regularly and don’t want to fall prey to these sick individuals.
“My Mummy says if I Get 1 Million Likes I can get a Puppy”
Really? If you’re a parent please think about this. Would you be happy if your four year old child promoted themselves publicly on a social network, giving access to all manner of online creeps just so they could get a puppy? This sickens me for two reasons, one – that the children posing are obviously unaware of the scam and think it’s a big game, two – that it is doing nothing to raise awareness of the importance of safety for children on the internet.
Think of it like this – you know this one is a scam because:
Children aren’t allowed Facebook accounts
No caring mother would expose their own children like this
No sensible adult would let Facebook dictate a life changing event, such as buying a dog that needs lifelong care.
Which leads me to the others,
“My Wife says if I Get 1 million likes we can Discuss Having a Baby”
Really? Your wife will change her entire life just because you gained likes on Facebook? Are the million likers going to supply you with an endless supply of nappies, university fees, a clothing allowance, premium childcare? Are they going to make sure she suffers no morning sickness, doesn’t get stretch marks, and has a pain free labour? If the answer is no to all of the above then why on earth does she care about the opinions of a million strangers?
Just ask yourself, would it change your mind?
Then we have the truly sick ones. I don’t need to go into details but some are so low it’s difficult for a normal caring human being to understand what goes through the minds of the people that post them. There’s no bottom line for these people, where there’s a human weakness there’s money and they know that any self-respecting user will click like if they want to help a child fight cancer or to end animal abuse. There are more depraved ones but if you’ve escaped them you’re lucky and I’m not here to shock. These are usually just presented as “click if you hate cancer”, “click if you want to end child abuse” however some are so clever they make you feel that if you don’t click you really are a heartless individual.
Then we have the funny or interesting ones and the ones that say “click like to see what happens”. These are tame compared to the rest but they’re accumulating likes for exactly the same reason as all of the pages above.
How do the Scammers Make Money from this?
1. The more likes they gain, the more their page is worth
They can then sell it to the highest bidder who will change the page details to reflect their own business and already have your likes. For example, the page you liked to help the kids get a puppy? All of a sudden you could like a page that is against your religion, opposes your views or sells items you’re seriously not comfortable with. As our liked pages are stored away in our settings, it can take months before you realise. In fact have a look now, are there any liked pages on there you don’t recognise?
2. The more likes they gain, the more they can call themselves a social media expert.
As a business copywriter and ecommerce journalist I often work with real social media experts that are brilliant at their jobs. These will bring customers into a brand through clever conversation, witty dialogue and interesting material and businesses small and large pay them well for doing so (which is well deserved). However, there are breeds of people that call themselves “social media experts” and they prove this by showing how many likes they have achieved for a business. Of course the initial photo “click like to fight cancer” will have been removed, but they’ll still use the page as part of their portfolio. The more work they gain, the more they exploit our charities, our consciences and our children.
3. When you like a page you give access to the page owner, allowing them to see your details.
Rules have recently changed on Facebook and already scammers are finding ways in which these new rules will work for them. Your information is valuable; they can commit fraud, steal your identity, or at the very least bombard you with spam. Make sure every page you like is worth it!
If you do want to support good causes that fight cancer, end child cruelty and so on, choose a charity you know. The NSPCC and the Macmillan Nurses could do with this exposure, they’d love it if they received a million likes and you’d be helping to spread the word.
Update: New scams include:
My daughter lost this teddy bear, please help us find it
Reunite this person with their long lost aunt etc,
Our teacher wants us to see how far this post will go
Share if you love your kids (those that don’t won’t)
Only geniuses will solve this puzzle (usually something like 2+2) share if you are one of the few
Comment with a name beginning with O, bet you can’t. (Olivia, Oliver, Otis,)
People with this name are beautiful/ mischeivous/naughty/ most likely to be kissed today
Basically if it entertains you and you think it will make your friends, laugh or smile (or wonder why you’re so weird) share it. If it’s a legitimate competition, share it if you want to. We recently did a giveaway of all of our review products, that wasn’t a scam, ask the lucky mum of four who won them!
There’s another scam doing the rounds that claims to give you a free tax refund. This is even more bizarre as some people who don’t pay tax are falling for it too. There are legitimate tax rebate services out there, who can claim a tax refund for you, you don’t need to respond to a scam email or instant message in Facebook.
Make sure that those offering a tax refund are legitimate accountancy services with real qualifications and a history of helping individuals and businesses with their taxes. The internet has made it even easier to find a good accountant, who will be able to claim a tax refund if you’re owed one, and so there’s really no need to fall for this scam.