Zyra at //// Spam //// Down with Facebook //// scams //// suspicious invitation //// Site Index
It would be awful to think that a notable website such as Facebook were to be sending spam, but there is this curious situation, and it has not been explained. Various incoming messages arrive, claiming to be invitations from "friends" at Facebook, inviting someone here to join Facebook. The messages are, however, Spam! They are unsolicited e-mails, and I believe they are unsolicited commercial e-mails.
The messages are faked-up to look like they are genuine invitations from other people who are members of Facebook. However, it's known that the messages are spam because they come in to entirely inappropriate e-mail addresses, ones which friends would not use. The addresses have been harvested. Some of them are "trap" e-mail addresses, made up purely to ensnare spam-senders. There is no way that any friends would be fooled by these.
Also, the Facebook Spam messages have subject lines like "Reminder 2" or "Reminder 7" with no previous "Reminder". This, plus the harvested e-mail addresses, and a few other things, suggest very strongly that the messages are SPAM!
So, what happens when these are reported to Facebook? A few messages are forwarded to email@example.com and we see what the response is. Well, after a while the helpful people at Facebook respond and they are absolutely convinced that the messages are genuine and are from "Friends". Even when it is pointed out in logical scientific terms that this is impossible, they still stick to the party line that the messages are individually initiated invites by friends.
There is something strongly suspicious about this. However, it's far from proven that Facebook themselves are senders of the spam messages. It could be that Facebook have incentivised their members to send out invitations to attract new members. But when this idea was put to the people at firstname.lastname@example.org they denied it. Oh no, there's no incentive scheme. It's your friends who have sent messages to "link request" and to "trade entrance" and to "spam trap address" etc, eh? Well NO, it's NOT. It is because someone is sending SPAM to promote Facebook. And it is starting to look just a bit like Facebook themselves are the spam-senders, or that there is some sort of undercover marketing agency working on behalf of Facebook sending out the spam, with a supposedly perfect cover-story, hoping that they'll not get caught out. Well, if that were the case, it now seems they have been caught out!
Furthermore, as if that wasn't enough, the fake invites have nothing familiar about them at all. There is not a hint that any of it is genuine. The pictures are apparently of random people.
A representative of Facebook has commented "We have no connection with these third parties and are actively working against them. Unfortunately, I cannot speculate as to the motivations of these third parties".
Facebook is not the only people-impersonating website that has such problems. There have been messages coming in supposedly from "friends" at Zorpian, and a few other places. Some of the incoming messages are in Chinese. Well, let's give them the benefit of the trout and assume I have a great many friends who are Chinese. As they would be friends they would know me well enough to know that my knowledge of the Chinese language is somewhat limited, and they would also know that it is impolite to send messages in Chinese knowing that the other person is unable to understand it. Therefore, this makes the suggestion extremely doubtful. It's much more likely to be spam!
Another problem with Facebook is something which only Google would describe as "spam" (ie search engine spam). If you find someone's business card, or you hear someone's name, and you look it up in a search, what do you get? If it's not a famous name, and not anything unique or distinctive, you tend to get some alleged page at Facebook! Bogus, nothing to do with what you are looking for. Some of the people are Dead, and there are others who could in theory put Facebook in court for personal libel! Whether they are convicted or not, it's an entirely scamlike fooling of search engines.
Update: It now looks like Facebook has started to resort to desperate measures in the sorts of ways some companies do when they are about to go bust: In March 2012 Facebook seems to be involved in a huge splat advertising campaign, where just about any adnonsense result supplied by Google produces some irrelevant Facebook ad. In my opinion that makes them look desperate. It also degrades the sites which allow themselves to appear be associated with Facebook. Resorting to sending e-mail spam is bad enough, and having loads of irrelevant ads all over the place looks like a pathetic effort to salvage the company from ruin. It's like a cult religion that's been discredited trying desperately to bring back its ex-members by making ever more ludicrous claims about miracles or the end of the world.
Well let's not tar every social-networking site with the same thick brush of bituminous roadmending stuff. However, regardless of the good or bad of any such network, here are some maxims to help to defeat any such spam sending campaign if indeed such a thing were to be the case:
* If you receive an invitation, check if it's to any of your trap addresses rather than to your genuine addresses. The distinction is already written up at the page about how to choose your e-mail addresses, a system which defeats most spam and various other nonsense too! Check the people. Do you know any of them? No? Then it's SPAM!
* Don't join a social network unless you have initiated the idea to join. If you are lured into joining some place or other, you might then be subject to various scam attacks, as per the dating site scam problem. Beware!
* Rather than join a social network, it's much better to set up your own website. This puts you in control, and you are in a much stronger position. You can then set up links with other people who also have their own websites.
* Never buy from spam. This applies to other things as well, such as joining things, forwarding stupid chain letter messages, and other dodgy things.
* If you are doing a search for someone, and you encounter a site with a fake personal page, start including that site in your "avoid" list. This is explained further in the page on how to find stuff
* Use commonsense. For example, there's Hallmark, and there's a Hallmark Virus, and there's a ridiculous Hallmark Virus ChainLetter. If you receive a message, you don't have to believe it. Do some searches. Suss it out. Then deal with it.
* Consider this: Almost all huge corporate setups have shares floated on the Stock Exchange. The Stock Exchange is a well-known Casino. The value of shares of such public limited companies can go down as well as up. As soon as there are any seeds of doubt in a company, their shares start to look like they might not be such a good investment, and once a rumour starts, the whole thing could slide and become a "run on the bank". Some of these places are about as sure-footed as a heavy lump of an iceberg on slush on the edge of a precipice in Greenland during global warming. Listen, can you hear a creaking sound?
Here are a few more Facebook Spam references:
Also see suspicious invitation
Facebook is not the only social networking site to send antisocial spam. There's also the problem of Badoo Spam, and also Zorpia Spam. These are spam messages trying to lure people into joining. Note: LinedIn spam is different, as the LinkedIn spam messages are generally viruses, phishing attacks, and spyware. It's rare to receive a genuine one.
Also see the page explaining Why Facebook is SO BAD