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.