According to a rather breathless warning message that is currently circulating on Facebook, you should not open a Facebook post featuring a photo of a disfigured little girl because the photo is a “trojan horse virus”.
The message asks you to copy and paste the information on your “wall” to warn other Facebook users
An example of the warning message:
Do not open the photo of the little girl disfigured circulating on Facebook, it is a TROJAN HORSE virus!!!. Copy / paste on your wall. Please. Thank you!’
Certainly, you should use caution and common sense when clicking posts on Facebook or anywhere else on the Internet. Some posts or links may open websites that contain malware or try to trick you into divulging your personal information to online criminals.
However, this circulating post has little use as a security warning and is unlikely to help people stay safe on Facebook.
I could find no information about a current malware attack that matches the one described in the warning message.
In fact, the message seems to be just an abridged variant of an earlier warning that began circulating back in 2013. The earlier version “urgently” warned users not to open a Facebook photo of a girl with a disfigured face and tacked on a list of others posts to watch out for. It warned that the posts described were “powerful computer viruses called trojans”.
As with this current version, the 2013 message had little value as a security warning.
While computer viruses and Trojan horses are both types of malware and both real threats, they are not the same thing. There is no such thing as a “trojan horse virus”. Viruses and Trojan horses have significantly different characteristics with regard to how they behave, how they are distributed or replicated, and what impact they have on the infected computer. So, referring to something as a “trojan horse virus” is meaningless and will just cause confusion and misunderstanding.
Stolen images of disfigured and disabled children and adults are often used in scams designed to gather Facebook likes or promote particular websites or Facebook Pages. However, these scams are not malware attacks and the above warning does not accurately describe them
To be useful, security warnings need to be valid, up-to-date, and contain accurate information. Otherwise, they serve only to spread misinformation and confusion.