What is a Facebook amen scam? If you look hard enough, you will find people who can promise you thousands of people who will “like” your Facebook page. How can they do it? Well, you have probably helped them more than once.

Have you ever wondered where all of those cute, funny, or emotional pictures or posts that go out over Facebook come from? You know what I am talking about. You receive a post with a picture of a US soldier that is missing a limb and you are encouraged to share or “like” if you support our troops. Notice the number of comments or “likes”?  Some have over a million “likes”. Who creates the funny little videos that go viral and we are then encouraged to share it or “like” it? There are a variety of answers, but in most every case it involves someone trying to scam, spam or do something else either illegal or immoral. What’s sad is some have figured out how to play the “Christian” card to get to us. It’s hard not to “Like” a picture about Jesus, and it is also hard not to “share” it with others, but those that started the post know their goal.

In January CNN reported on this problem related to Facebook. One example they used was a heart breaking photo of a young girl wearing a cheerleader uniform. She has cancer (no hair) but has a brave smile on her face. You are encouraged to “Like” to show support for her recovery and to share it with friends to spread the encouragement. The problem is the photo was taken in 2007, and the family had no idea that the photo was being used in this manner on Facebook. Why would someone do such a thing? What is the benefit?  What they are doing is called “like farming”, with the goal of getting millions to like the photo, which is then transferred to the original Facebook page that started distributing the photo. To what end?

First of all, once you like such a picture, the “like” is transferred to the business site that started the distribution. That site can then sell the Facebook page, with all of the “likes”, to some other company. That company can then post marketing info which will show up on your Facebook page. Ever wonder how you started receiving ads directly on your page as if it came from a friend? They can start by sending out a post to guilt people into “liking” something, and then next thing you know you are seeing posts to your Facebook site from someone selling shoes!

It can get worse. If a page owner has access to Facebook’s developer tools, they can collect data on the people who “like” a page. Personal information such as gender, where you live and how old you are can be used to target specific ads to your page. So, while you expect a post from a Christian music site you “liked” letting you know about a new song, you might wonder why you are receiving a post about products from companies you never liked.

There are two more dangers that can come from “liking” such posts. First, the owner can use this as an opportunity to push posts with links that can install malware on your computer. Most malware these days stay silent without doing any danger to your computer. But, they work in the background to steal your ID, tracking your keystrokes whenever you log into a bank account, or try to steal your passwords and account information.

Another reason for “like farming” is due to efforts to do spam marketing. For example, you can access the “Facebook” email addresses of those that “like” your page. Facebook made the decision awhile back that IF you emailed something to a person’s “Facebook” email address (one that was assigned to you when you signed up for Facebook), Facebook will also forward that email to the email you registered with when you signed up for Facebook. One of those moving pictures of a returning US soldier that I saw was sent from a political site. If they had the Facebook developer’s kit, they could then send emails out to 1.2 million people, using their Facebook email addresses, assigned by Facebook BUT Facebook would then convert these and send them to your registered email addresses. I know the price of email blasts, and can tell you that from that one picture and the number of “likes” they had received, that had a value of $35,000 for just ONE spam email that they can send out to that list.

Some of these promotional posts might seem cool, and the originating site might seem harmless, but let’s be clear, these cute pics have a purpose, to make money for someone else. Tonight as I wrote this article, someone sent a picture with a pencil with the name Jesus on it, erasing the word sin. The message, “Can I get an AMEN!”  Of course, if you “like” it, your information goes to a site that claims to be faith based. They have a LOT of marketing materials on their site (which is a Facebook page). It was hard to get to the bottom and click on the terms of use, but I finally made it. In their terms of use they state the following.

Ownership of Rights of Your Content. You hereby grant Operator and its designees a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, transferable, sublicenseable license (the “License”) to sell, license, rent, modify, distribute, copy, reproduce, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, publish, adapt, edit and prepare derivative works of Your Content in connection with the Site or the conduct of Operator’s business in any formats and through any media channels. Operator may monitor Your Content as it appears on the Site and may edit or delete Your Content at any time and for any or no reason without your permission.

I believe this is on their site in reference to those that might leave a “comment” about Christian pictures like the one mentioned above. Few want to promote that by doing this they also obtain a lot of personal information about you and have the ability to now spam your real email address. This disclaimer seems to cover comments, and also gives them complete license to sell your email address to others wanting to market to you?!

So, when you “like” their little picture of the pencil named Jesus erasing the word sin, just remember they know your gender, your name, your address, your Facebook email address (which translates as your main email address) and by combining your “like” with a little data mining which other companies can provide (some based upon your Facebook activity) they can create a pretty accurate portfolio on what you like, what you don’t like, and what you will tolerate. In other words, when someone sends out such a cute, funny or emotional post, realize by being manipulated into “liking” it, you are making them a lot of money!

 

Conclusion

Facebook is a dangerous place. Don’t get caught up in liking “little” pictures, videos, quotes or other content that didn’t come as original material from a friend or family member. Remember, Facebook is a marketing dark alley. Be careful and stop helping the spammers, scammers and crooks!