It’s a pretty common site on Facebook these days: a heartbreaking photo of a sick child, an abused puppy, or an elderly person sitting in squalor that implores readers to like, comment and share to raise awareness.
But liking that post could put your computer at risk.
Back in 2015, the Better Business Bureau warned about a scam called “like farming,” where a page racks up likes and comments (making their posts be seen more often) and then suddenly switches gears, posting advertising, products they’ll get a commission on, or even harmful, virus-laden links. As more posts are going viral than ever before, the BBB is again warning people to be vigilant.
Years ago, the lure to get people to like or share was a claim that Facebook, Bill Gates, or some other ultra-rich entity had agreed to donate a sum of money to a cause for every time the image was shared. Since people have mostly gotten wise to the fact that’s not true, the reason to share now is simply to show support. And many times, the photo used as like-bait is even stolen itself from a legitimate person in need.
“Once the page creators have piled up hundreds of likes and shares,” the BBB said in their press release, “they may strip the page and promote something else, such as products that they will receive commissions for selling. They may also sell the page and information that was collected from the ‘likes’ with a more direct threat of gaining access in an attempt to gather credit card numbers that may be stored for certain Facebook apps, passwords or other personal information.”
So the next time you see a heartwarming or heartwrenching post, it’s probably best to just ignore it unless the post is from a source you know is legitimate.