Facebook is earning more than its share of member complaints lately regarding its mandatory Timeline change. But it doesn’t seem to be earning many timely kudos for taking on a company accused of targeting those same members for “clickjacking” – or more to Facebook’s point, “likejacking.”
And yes, the Securities and Exchange Commission deserves a lot of criticism for its not-so-stellar record regarding recent Wall Street shenanigans. But at least the agency was trying to be a little more proactive earlier this month when it filed charges accusing a broker of using LinkedIn to sell a half-trillion dollars worth of fake securities.
Social media marketing professionals need to pay attention to cases like this, and the A-list names among social networks need to stay on the offensive. That’s because more scams and hustles are filling everyone’s Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn feeds. It doesn’t matter whether they target individuals’ feeds or social media brand pages; customer trust in the concept of social media is at stake here. The more people who climb on board the Sharing and Content Express that is social media, the more opportunities for unscrupulous types to engage in the 21st-century version of train robberies.
Exhibit A: the company accused in the “likejacking” case. It what Reuters says may be the first time a state government has targeted an alleged Facebook scam, the Washington State attorney general’s office has joined with Facebook in suing Adscend Media of Delaware. AG Rob McKenna and Facebook claim Adscend gets its money by deceptively sending people to websites via a friend’s social media feed; “liking” a post from a friend that promises a video that shows somebody’s ex-boyfriend getting their comeuppance, for example, instead sends the user to a website that makes them give up information if they want to see the content. In some cases, you don’t even have to click on the “like” button to become part of this scammy network; insidious software code can activate the button all by itself.
There are, of course, elements of social engineering at play here. No one is ever forced to “like” content that features a scantily-clad woman or plays on other base emotions. And let’s face it; you know a certain Facebook friend can put subjects and verbs together in a very eloquent manner. Yet that recent status update from them? You know, this one: “Renay there is a webpage Glitch and There issuing out Totally Free iipad 2…go now before its Too Late?” I will be subjecting myself to a Rebecca Black “Friday” marathon before I click on that scam-bait. So users do have to take a little personal responsibility for their own social media security.
But the social media networks themselves have to help customers out with timely warnings, not just privacy policies that keep their personal information sacred. In my opinion, Twitter is doing a much better job than it used to in alerting members to various toxic links. Facebook has faced privacy criticisms since shortly after its 2006 launch. Yet its legal action against Adscend may result in more charges against other companies engaging in similar Facebook-targeting tactics.
For their part, individuals can always check out Facecrooks.com, which tracks the latest Facebook scams, or Club Norton from the noted computer security company for basic information on protecting yourself while on social media.
What do you think about Facebook’s legal action against Adscend? Does it help inoculate Mark Zuckerberg’s company against continuing scrutiny over its privacy policies? Do you see a threat to social media marketing? Please share with us in our Comments section.