Facebook is awash with bogus competition pages. You know, the ones that promise amazing prizes such as store vouchers, holidays, luxury vehicles, ocean cruises, free air travel, and even houses in exchange for liking, sharing, commenting, and filling in surveys. And, despite many warnings about such scams, very large numbers of Facebook users still fall for them every day.
Of course, there is no disgrace in getting caught by a scam. We are all potentially vulnerable to such ruses in one way or another. Initially, these victims deserve our sympathy and help so that they can avoid being caught by such scams in the future. And, a great many people do listen to what their more experienced friends tell them. So, they don’t get caught again.
But, alas, it seems that there are at least a few serial offenders that get caught out by the same types of scam over and over again, despite repeated warnings from their Facebook friends.
Often, after being informed that they have participated in bogus Facebook prize offers, these serial offenders will dismiss the issue with comments such as “oh well, no harm done”, “can’t hurt”, “it was worth a try”, “it’s just a bit of fun”, or a variety of similar justifications.
The problem is, of course, that participating in these scams can indeed do harm, not only to the person who participates, but to other users as well, and to the Facebook network as a whole.
To clarify, the rather blunt words I’ve penned below are certainly not aimed at inexperienced Facebook users who have been tricked once or twice by such scams. These people are victims and, as I note above, many of them will learn from the experience and they won’t get caught again. The points I outline here are aimed squarely at those Facebook users who still decide to participate in these Facebook giveaways despite being informed over and over again that the giveaways are scams.
Here’s why the ‘no harm done’ excuse doesn’t hold water:
1: Unscrupulous strangers get hold of your personal information.
To participate in these bogus competitions, you will usually be required to provide your name, home address, email address, and phone numbers, supposedly so that you can go in the draw for a prize. Fine print on these “survey” and “offer” websites will state that your information will be shared with third party marketing companies and site sponsors. So, you will end up being inundated with unwanted phone calls, text messages, emails, and surface letters promoting a variety of products that you neither want nor need. Or you may find that, by participating, you have been subscribed to a very expensive SMS “service” that will charge you several dollars for every inane and pointless text message they send you.
But, beyond that, do you REALLY want people who are willing to use such underhand tactics to know where you live and how to contact you? After all, these people have shown themselves to be inherently dishonest. They lied about having a prize to give away. They lied about being associated with a particular company or brand. They lied in order to manipulate you into taking actions that promote their fraudulent material and make them money.
These people are deceitful, dishonest, and are quite obviously more than willing to exploit the gullibility of others to further their own needs. In other words, these people should certainly not be trusted with any of your personal details.
Even if, as with some initial versions of these scams, all the scammers get out of you are likes, shares, and comments, then they have still gathered useful information about you. They know that, since you participated in one such bogus prize offer, you may well participate in further offerings. And, now they can reach out to you via Facebook with more sophisticated scam attempts that aim to gather a lot more of your personal information.
2: You expose your friends to the same scams.
Every time you participate in one of these bogus promotions, you ensure that your Facebook friends will see that you have done so. When you like, share, and comment on one of the scam posts, you are effectively advertising the post to your Facebook friends. Thus, at least a few of your friends will likely put their personal information at risk by participating as well. After all, many of your friends will trust your judgment and therefore will be more willing to participate because the scam post came directly from you. So, if they get caught out and divulge their information, it’s on you! They are unlikely to view you in a good light once they find out the giveaway you recommended to them was just a way of harvesting their personal information.
3: You are aiding and abetting Facebook scammers.
Even if you still think that these fake promotions are just a bit of harmless fun, consider this. By participating, you are helping scammers make money via fraudulent activities. By liking, sharing, and commenting, you effectively become the fraudster’s personal spammer. You are helping scammers victimise innocent Facebook users, some of whom will be your friends. In other words, by participating, you become a willing accomplice to online scammers. Is that really something that you want to do?
These scams only work because so many people participate. The lower the number of people who participate in one of these scams, the less effective it will be for the scammers. If the scammers stop making as much money out of such fraudulent promotions, they will eventually stop launching so many of them. So, by participating, not only are you helping the scammers in the short term, you are encouraging them to continue creating even more such scams.
4: You appear foolish in front of your friends.
Last but not least, by participating, you are making yourself look rather foolish and naive in front of at least some of your Facebook friends. Especially those who have repeatedly warned you about such scams. After a while, some of them may start to doubt your judgment, not only regarding the scam posts, but with other things as well. If your friends see that you continually participate in these scams despite being warned about them, you will damage your credibility and reputation.
So, if you’ve found yourself touting the “no harm done” justification, I respectfully suggest that you rethink it.
Your friends will thank you for it. And, Facebook might be just a little safer and less cluttered with garbage.