Is Facebook the New Spam Heaven?

n20531316728_2397Almost every few hours for a week I’ve been getting messages from my Facebook acquaintances with links to some phishing sites. These are not even very sophisticated messages — instead, they’re random links to utterly evil sites such as atreps.at, greenbuddy.be and nudz.ru. There have been reports of these phishers using TinyURL Web address shorteners. Some have subject lines such as “Look at This” or “Hello.” According to Inside Facebook, these attacks impact less than 1 percent of Facebook users.

With around 225 million users, that works out to about 2.25 million people affected by these spam messages. Given that I have thousands of friends on Facebook, the problem seems to be particularly severe for me. (Take our poll below to let us know if you have been impacted by this spam.) The intensity of these phishing attacks has been escalating. Even though Facebook isn’t alone in facing these problems, it is certainly the largest social network to encounter them. Facebook has still not been able to fix the month-old problem that is spreading. It has some suggestions on how to avoid these scams, but I don’t think it is enough. If there is any upside of walled garden communities, it is that they should be able to avoid these kinds of problems.

What’s worse, is that these spam messages prompt “group responses” from people who either decry them as junk or warn people not to fall for them. The more such messages, the less useful Facebook becomes as a communications platform. Facebook management needs to understand that these attacks are a clear and present danger for their platform.

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