Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Be careful which facebook page you ‘like’


This 2007 image has been liked and shared thousands of times on Facebook -- with no permission from the girl's family
This 2007 image has been liked and shared thousands of times on Facebook — with no permission from the girl’s family

(CNN) — It’s an image that tugs at the heartstrings. A smiling 7-year-old girl poses in her cheerleading uniform, circled by a ring of pompons, her bald head a telltale sign of her chemotherapy treatments.

The photo hit Facebook last year and popped up all over with messages of support. “Like” to show this little girl you care. “Share” to tell her she’s beautiful. Pray for her to beat cancer.
But here’s the truth. The photo was nearly six years old. And neither the girl, nor her parents — who never posted it to Facebook — had any idea it was being used that way.

‘Like’ farming

Welcome to the world of Facebook “like farming.”
Those waves of saccharin-sweet posts that sometimes fill your news feed may seem harmless. But all too often, they’re being used for nefarious purposes. At best, a complete stranger may be using the photos to stroke their own ego. At worst, experts say, scammers and spammers are using Facebook, often against the site’s rules, to make some easy cash.
And they’re wiling to play on the good intentions of Facebook users to do it.

“The average user doesn’t know any better,” said Tim Senft, founder of Facecrooks.com, a website that monitors scams and other illegal or unethical behavior on Facebook. “I think their common sense tells them it’s not true, but in the back of their minds, they think ‘What if it is true? What does it hurt if I press like?’ or whatever.”

What does it hurt?

“I was first shocked,” said Amanda Rieth of Northampton, Pennsylvania, whose daughter was the subject of that photo. “And then infuriated.”

After being notified by a friend who recognized the girl in a Facebook post, Rieth tracked the image back to a link she’d posted to her Photobucket account in a community forum in 2009, two years after it was taken.

Her daughter, who was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma in early 2007, has been featured in local news segments for her fundraising efforts to fight cancer through Alex’s Lemonade Stand. But her mom said she was always part of the decision and was happy to help publicize the fight.
“This? This was entirely different and entirely out of our control,” Rieth said. “That’s the most gut-wrenching part: the total lack of control.”

[pullquote]Once the page creators have piled up hundreds of thousands of likes and shares, they’ll strip the page and promote something else[/pullquote] Hurting the people featured in the posts, and their families, isn’t the only risk of sharing such content. Sometimes, a single click can help people who are up to no good.
Often, Senft said, Facebook pages are created with the sole purpose of spreading viral content that will get lots of likes and shares.

Once the page creators have piled up hundreds of thousands of likes and shares, they’ll strip the page and promote something else, like products that they get a commission for selling. Or, they may turn around and sell the page through black-market websites to someone who does the same.
It’s a way to trick Facebook’s algorithm, which is designed to give more value to popular pages than the ones, like scams and spam, that pop up overnight.
“The more likes and shares and comments and that sort of thing you have, the more likely it is to be seen by other people,” Senft said. “If they’re looking to sell the page in a black-hat forum somewhere, that’s what the value of the page is.”

It gets worse

Sometimes, the threat is more direct.
The “new” page may be used to spread malware — software that attacks the user’s computer — or for phishing, the act of trying to gather credit card numbers, passwords or other personal information through links to phony giveaways or contests.
If the page owner has access to Facebook’s developer tools, they can collect data on the people who like the page. Personal information like gender, location and age can be used to target more personalized attacks.

The kind of posts used run a gamut from cute to tasteless, from manipulative to misleading.
Rieth said she still finds her daughter’s photo on Facebook from time to time, even though Facebook eventually deleted the original after she and others reported it.
On the most recent page she found, the picture appears in a feed alongside posts such as “Who loves French fries? Like & share if you do” and multiple images encouraging people to like and share if they love Jesus.

There’s an image of a premature baby, pictures of military troops cuddling puppies and an image of a young boy pouring water on a man’s cigarette with the text “Sorry papa … I need you.”
“It’s anything that’s going to kind of tug at the heartstrings: the sick kids, the animal abuse, acting like it’s some kind of pet shelter,” Senft said. “That’s the bad part with the scammers. They hit people where they’re vulnerable, play on their emotions.”

What to do

Because of Facebook’s sheer size, he said it sometimes takes lots of reports for the site to delete an offensive or misleading image, or shut down the page it came from. The best approach, Senft said, is to think before sharing.
“If it sounds too good to be true, don’t click on it,” he said. “If it’s something that’s obviously geared toward tugging on the heartstrings, check it out first.”
Facebook said it continues to work to make sure high-quality content surfaces for users and low-quality posts don’t. That includes trying to diminish the reach of posts that appear to be “like farming” attempts.

“People have told us they associate requests to like or share a post with lower quality content, and receiving that type of feedback helps us adjust our systems to get better at showing more high quality posts,” a Facebook spokesperson said via e-mail.
“If you see a post that’s low quality and seems to be focused only on gaining traffic, hover over the top-right corner of the post and click the arrow to report it.”
Facebook uses “automated and manual methods to swiftly remove links and pages that violate our policies,” the spokesperson said. “We’re always making improvements to our detection and blocking systems to stay ahead of threats.”
‘Truly angry’
Today, Rieth’s daughter is 13 — an eighth-grader who has shown no signs of her cancer since September 2007.
But her mom compares that cheerleading photo to the mythical hydra, a monster with many heads that sprouts two more each time one is cut off. Based just on the images she’s found and reported, the photo has been liked and shared on Facebook hundreds of thousands of times.
A search Monday also found it popping up on Pinterest, as well as one site where it was wrongly used alongside a 2010 article about actor Jackie Chan helping a girl with leukemia find a bone-marrow donor.
“What makes me truly angry, though, is knowing that they’re using it as an insidious way to make money,” Rieth said. “That’s not what her survival is about to us.”
For this article, CNN sent a Facebook message to the owner of the last page where Rieth found the photo.
When asked whether he planned to sell his page, the owner replied with two words:
“How much?”

To see original story ,click here:CNN


  1. This page was Originated by PFs who wanted to block Zambia from using fb but due to hightech this is what they could only afford…lol….

  2. I admit to ‘Liking’ Sata’s page even though I cannot stand the old fart and his clueless cabinet. This just shows that most of the ‘Likes’ on Sata’s page are not actual ‘likes’ after all.

    • Of course not actual “likes”. We all know George Chella used $10000 to give internet cafe around Chilenje & Cairo road to create “likes” for Sata’s Footbook.

  3. If you have an online photo album and you would like to add a photo from there to facebook, it is best to put that photo on your desktop first, and then from there upload, otherwise, if you link it directly from the album, e.g photobucket, facebook, or anyone on facebook, depending on your security settings, can access the entire album. Just a word of advice.

  4. But who doesnt know that scammers are severly active on internet? Day in day out they are reinventing ways and means to make that million bucks, FB has been their favourite for obvious reasons. Every scammer,pevert, money launders is as active on internet same a vampire is when it is bloody thirsty.
    Gongs will sound for ever, the law will be on them like crazy fact is we will still have them around.
    The only thing we can do is be cautious what information we share on the internet, unfortunately for my poor Africans FB is the best thing ever since spliced bread, you know what I mean so much that I cringe in my skin!

  5. But we know all these things……Thats why it adds no value refusing registration of one’s SIM card for fear of making one’s particulars public.

    Peace and Prosperity to Mother Zambia.

  6. This is why my facebook is ALWAYS PRIVATE, even if I know everyone. Only friends and friends of friends can contact, but “friends” do not know I am even on. I simply do not trust other peeps anywhere online, and seeing this EXACT THING with the pic likes, I once was called a “Neo-Luddite.” 15 yrs later, I read this. No crystal ball was used. Just common sense. We give too much away, even when we do not realize it. Poep0le who have no business knowing who we are know us too well. Then they market to us on that, knowing our weaknesses. With computers, you cannot trust anyone, even for the most innocent appearing stuff!

Comments are closed.

Read more

Local News

Discover more from Lusaka Times-Zambia's Leading Online News Site - LusakaTimes.com

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading