Warning circulating rapidly on Facebook warns users not to click on links labelled “New Gifts For You” because the links will launch a virus that will automatically spread via Facebook comments.
There is no evidence that a threat like the one described in the warning is currently spreading on Facebook. In many ways, bogus warnings such as this are likely to cause as many problems as the threats they purport to describe. While Facebookers should certainly use caution when following links, spreading dubious and unsubstantiated warnings such as this is counterproductive and is unlikely to help anyone.
THERE IS A VIRUS GOING THROUGH OUR COMMENTS. IT WILL START SENDING LINKS IN YOUR NAME. IT SAYS, “I KNOW YOU WILL LOVE THIS”, OR “LOOKING FOR SOME FUN”, THEN IT HAS A PAGE LINK SAYING, “NEW GIFTS FOR YOU”. DO NOT OPEN THIS LINK. THEY ARE POPPING UP EVERYWHERE!!! PLEASE COPY AND PUT IT ON YOUR STATUS AND HELP WARN THOSE IN YOUR CIRCLE
According to a “warning”that is currently thundering around Facebook at a rate of knots, users of that venerable social networking site should watch out for posts that contain links titled “New Gifts For You”.
The message warns that clicking such a link will launch a “virus” that will start sending out the links in the name of the user via Facebook posts that say “i know you will love this”, or “looking for some fun”. The message urges users to repost the warning to help other users to avoid the “virus” links because “they are popping up everywhere”.
However, I have found no credible reports that confirm the claims in the warning message. There are no references to such a threat listed on computer security websites such as Sophos or F-Secure. In fact, Sophos computer security blogger Graham Cluley writes that he has not seen any evidence that such a threat even exists. In an article about the “warning” he notes:
There are plenty of folks raising awareness of the so-called “New Gifts For You” virus, but so far I haven’t seen any evidence that the threat actually exists.
It’s possible that this is just a scare that has got out of hand – with users spreading a well-intentioned warning to each other based upon a rogue application that has long been shut down by the-powers-that-be at Facebook.
Moreover, despite the claim in the message that the virus links are “popping up everywhere”, the only current Facebook posts that contain the specific phrase “New Gifts For You” appear to be reposts of the warning itself or posts that question the warning’s validity. And the same can be said for the other key phrases contained in the warning message, “i know you will love this”, or “looking for some fun”. If the threat was really as virulent and widespread as described in the warning, then its should not be at all difficult to locate examples of the malicious messages and analyse their supposed payload. In reality, I am yet to locate a single example of the malicious “New Gifts For You” message described in the “warning”.
Ironically, because the warning is spreading so rapidly, it is apt to ultimately cause more problems than the supposed threat that it purports to describe. Such warnings clutter Facebook pages with misinformation, cause unnecessary alarm, and waste the time of those who read and repost them. They can also desensitise uses to warnings about real threats. Even if such warnings began life as legitimate security alerts, they often tend to circulate long after the security issue described ceases to be a significant threat. They also tend to mutate rapidly as they circulate so that any legitimacy or worth they once had is soon lost. Thus, it is important to check the validity of any virus or security warning via a credible source before reposting or forwarding it.
Certainly, Facebook members should use due caution when following links in posts even if they appear to come from friends. Links posted by Facebook scammers may well lead to sites that contain malware or fake surveys. Other bogus posts may entice Facebook uses into installing rogue Facebook applications that can automatically update their Facebook pages with links to malware websites. However, reposting garbled and inaccurate alerts such as this “New Gifts For You” warning is pointless and counterproductive and certainly will not help your fellow Facebookers in any way shape or form.