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Facebook surveys: A Christmas gift from the devil

Dec 20, 20103 mins
Data and Information Security

I avoid Facebook surveys at all costs because they are usually stupid, boring, and — if you didn’t already know — dangerous. Here’s something to prove it:

This one was sent to me a few minutes ago from my friend, Kevin Kosh, who does PR for security vendor Sophos. You should also read an article my colleague Joan Goodchild wrote recently called “Social Media Risks: The Basics.” Trust me. It’ll make you smarter.

Now for that alert from Sophos…



– Hundreds of thousands of Facebook users hit by resurgence of “Girl killed herself” scam this weekend

IT security and control firm Sophos is warning Facebook users about the reappearance of survey scams that are quickly spreading across the social network. Many Facebook users are struggling to clean up their accounts once they’ve been tricked into allowing a third party application to post messages from their profile.

These scams are able to spread across the network as users think that online friends have posted the message, seemingly linkining to the enticing material.

However, by clicking on the link and giving a third-party Facebook application access to their profile, users are helping the scammers to spread the application across their network of friends.

Typical scams include messages that read:

“OMG this girl KILLED herself after her dad posted on her wall: LINK”

“Amazing how such a harmless prank could cause something so bad!: LINK”

“OMG OMG OMG…I cant believe this actually works! Now you really can see who viewed your profile! LINK”

Sophos has created a YouTube video, which sites are free to embed, to help Facebook users clear up their profiles if they’ve been affected by any of these scams:

“We’ve received an extremely large number of messages this weekend from worried Facebook users who are trying to remove these applications from their profiles once they’ve been affected by the scams,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. “The safest way to protect yourself from such scams, is to not click on unknown links in the first place, even if you think they’ve been posted by a friend. If you have fallen for these tricks though, it’s important to remove the applications completely, not just the wall posts, to ensure that you’re not helping the bad guys to spread the scam further.”

Sophos’s Facebook group, which warns of emerging threats on Facebook, can be found at:

More information about the attack, including the video, can be found on Sophos’s Naked Security blog at:

–Bill Brenner