Yet another breathless ALL CAPS ‘security’ warning has been let loose on Facebook and is going viral across the network.
The message warns users that a ‘who is your soulmate’ post, identified rather vaguely as being ‘from a quizz company’ is a virus that will send the same message to your friends on your behalf and entice them to call a certain number to ‘clear the screen’.
However, the claims remain unsubstantiated. I could find no credible computer security reports that warn about such an attack.
There are many soulmate related quizzes available on Facebook. Such quizzes are quite popular and, at any one time, several of them may be circulating on Facebook as users share their quiz results with their Facebook friends.
But, the would-be warning does not identify which of these many soulmate quizzes it is referring to. Some commentators have suggested that the message is talking about the ‘Who is your true soulmate’ quiz, which is just one of many quizzes offered by the company ‘CaptainQuizz’.
However, having run this quiz through its paces, I can report that it is in no way malicious. The quiz simply asks you some questions and then checks your Facebook profile and identifies a Facebook friend as your possible soulmate. It does not post on your behalf and does not exhibit any malicious behaviour. The quiz does allow you to share your results with your friends if you so desire.
I also tried out several more Facebook soulmate quizzes with similar results. None exhibited any overtly malicious behaviour and none forced me to call a number to clear my screen (whatever that means).
These quizzes are rather puerile and their results are pretty much meaningless anyway. And, at least some of your Facebook friends may find them irritating. But, at least for those I have tested, the apps are harmless enough.
Of course, to work, these apps do require permission to access your Facebook profile. And, certainly, you should always use caution when allowing apps such permission.
As noted, there are a number of such quizzes on Facebook and it is certainly not impossible that one or more of them may try to trick people into installing rogue Facebook applications or visiting websites that contain malware. This is true, not only for soulmate quizzes, but all manner of other Facebook quizzes, games, and surveys.
But, in its current form, the message is simply too vague to have any real merit as a warning. As noted, it does not identify which particular quiz it is referring to. Nor does it describe what the supposed virus actually does. It claims that the ‘virus’ tells people to call a number to clear the screen. But does ‘clearing the screen’ mean that the computer’s files have been locked as in a ransomware attack? What happens when you call the number? Do those responsible demand money to ‘clear the screen’ or is the number just a telemarketing scam? Given that calling the number would obviously be playing into the hands of the scammers and should be avoided, what action should you take if the ‘virus’ hits you? The warning message gives none of this information.
To be worthwhile, security warnings must contain accurate, up-to-date, and actionable information that allows recipients to clearly identify a perceived threat and take steps to avoid it. Thus, sharing this overblown message is unlikely to be helpful.
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!