Posts appearing on Facebook claim that users can click a link to view “shocking”, “exclusive” or “breaking news” video footage. The supposed videos cover a range of subject areas, including the discovery of giant creatures, dreadful car or plane accidents caught on film, news of a celebrity’s death or injury and salacious or titillating gossip about what a particular person has supposedly done on camera.
The messages are scams. The links open bogus pages that attempt to trick people into participating in survey scams, installing rogue Facebook apps, installing malicious browser plugins, downloading malware or promoting suspect websites. Do not click links in these bogus messages, even if they were posted from the accounts of your Facebook friends.
Over recent months, a seemingly endless series of “video” scam messages have been plaguing Facebook. The content of the messages varies considerably, but they all promise Facebook users willing to click links in the posts access to “shocking”, “exclusive”, or “breaking news” video footage.
Many of the messages claim that users can view terrible accidents or animal attacks caught on video. Some claim to show footage of massive creatures that have just been “discovered”. Others falsely claim that a celebrity has died via accident or suicide and promise footage of the accident or video of the star’s last words to fans. Still others try to entice clicks by promising salacious or outrageous footage of what a particular person was caught doing on camera.
As a means of further encouraging Facebook users to click links, all of the scam messages offer teaser images that supposedly show screenshots taken from the promised videos. Most of the teaser images are either digitally altered fakes or are stolen from other, unrelated, contexts.
The precise mechanism and purpose of the scam messages varies somewhat in different versions. Some try to trick users into participating in bogus online surveys that ask them to provide their personal information. Some try to trick users into installing rogue Facebook applications that will send out spam and scam messages. Some fool people into adding malicious plugins to their browsers. Some trick users into downloading malware by claiming that they must update their video players before they can see the promised footage. Some combine several of the above tactics into the one scam attempt.
And virtually all of the scams try to turn victims into inadvertent spammers by tricking them into promoting more versions of the scam messages via Facebook shares, likes and comments.
Yet another variation of the scam is designed simply to drive traffic to a particular website. These variations first get users to share the same “shocking” video via Facebook and then redirect them to the targeted website. Any website that users such an underhand tactic to promote itself should not be trusted.
In most cases, the promised videos do not exist at all and no amount of clicking or participation will allow users to access them. In a few instances, the scammers have used real videos taken from others sources such as YouTube. But, of course, users can freely access these genuine videos whenever they please without playing into the hands of the scammers.
If one of these scam messages comes your way, do not click on any links that it contains. If you do inadvertently click such a link and a subsequent page claims that you must share a post, install an app or plugin, download software or participate in a survey before seeing the video, then leave the page immediately.