You’ve probably seen the images before — a guy on a craggy edge with a bear cutting off his escape, two bikini clad ladies fly fishing, or the barely-visible image of a face underneath a repeating pattern, and the message attached usually reads like this:
- Click on the image.
- Write in the “Comments” the word “Jump.” (or “Like” the image)
- Watch what happens.
Could hundreds of thousands of people be suckered into thinking something would happen? The answer is “Yes.” and here’s how something as simple as a comment adds to a Facebook scammer’s income.
When you “Like” or “Comment” on a picture, you are in a sense “subscribing” to that picture. If someone else comments or likes the photo, you are sent a notification of their activity. This may seem easy to filter out of your news feed; but as Yahoo-UK reports, it’s less about you and more about the bigger picture or — in the case of these images — the bigger numbers. “Within 3 days a post like this has 70,000 likes, and someone somewhere is about to make a nice little profit by selling the page to a business wanting some quick wins,” states Next Digital’s Daylan Pearce. “The buyer changes the page details. Instant fanpage with a big following, lots of likes and an in depth edge rank.” This equates for you to suddenly find in your feed and notifications solicitation that you don’t recognize or remember authorizing.
This shady approach to marketing is a form of “social engineering.” Something seemingly harmless as commenting with the word “Jump” on an innocuous is actually harmless in itself, but you become in turn an unknowing participant in a very large “push” for numbers. “The main reason for this is the trust that people feel whilst socializing with their friends online,” David Emm, a senior security research associate at Kaspersky Lab, explains. “People are much more likely to click on a link shared by a friend, and this inherent trust is something cybercriminals prey upon.”
With October being Cyber Security Awareness Month, there are some tips you can follow to avoid helping cyberscammers from cashing in on your trust:
- If you see these images promising a “payoff” by liking or commenting on them, either mute the post or simply avoid it outright.
- Always look at the origin page of the image. If the page appears to host questionable content (questionable based on your standards) then flag the image as spam.
- If you do try out one of these images and discover it’s a scam, watch your own feed carefully. Make sure you are not sending out any images without your knowledge. Change your password as an extra layer of safety.
- If you receive these “Like” or “Comment” images directly on your wall from a trusted source, contact that friend and ask if they actually did send the image to you.
These scams of “Like” this picture or “Comment and Watch What Happens” tend to be lower in the threat against your personal information. Still, even as eye sores, these scams should not be taken lightly. Business and corporations that invest in such back alley statistics might also take shortcuts in more pressing matters such as the security of their clientele; and if that clientele includes you, you might be attempting to repair larger problems than a junked up news feed on Facebook.
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