False Facebook 'dislike button' ensnares users

The long awaited Facebook feature won't appear quite yet.
The long awaited Facebook feature won't appear quite yet.

The much-vaunted 'dislike button' has arrived on Facebook. But not in the way you think.

A new scam has emerged trailing in the wake of the widely publicised announcement of a 'dislike button' in development.

The hacking news outlet, Hackread, reported yesterday that a 'dislike button' scam has emerged on Facebook. Offering users the opportunity to “get the newly introduced Facebook 'dislike button' on your profile”, the scam leads its victims through multiple links whereby the user offers up their personal and account information for harvest, with the supposed intention of spreading the scam to users' other Facebook friends. It may also lead people to download malware, according to the Hackread story.

Once infected, the malware will then spread itself by posting further advertisements for the dud feature on users' walls and via messages to the users' friends.

The scammers can't be faulted for laziness; at a Question and Answer session earlier this month, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the social network, Facebook,  admitted that the 'dislike button' is on it's way: “People have asked about the 'dislike button' for many years. Today is the day I get to say that we're working on it.” He qualified his statement to say that people will want to use Facebook to express other emotions than approval: “People want to be able to express empathy. Not every moment is a good moment. If you're sharing something that's sad...then it may not feel comfortable to  'like' that post.” Zuckerberg added that,  “People want to be able to express that they're able to understand and relate to you so I do think it's important to give people more options that just ‘like'.”

While the Facebook founder said the feature was in a development stage, that was clearly enough to set scammers' imaginations alight. The offer of an exclusive 'dislike button' appeared soon after.

The scammers have clearly found a fertile opportunity here by latching onto a widely-desired addition to Facebook. This is not first time that the 'dislike button' has appeared, offering users yet another shade of emotional expression on the social network. In 2010, the BBC reported a similar Facebook scam, offering the gullible access to the coveted ‘dislike button' while also allowing the culprit application access to the user's information and their ability to post.

Phishing scams are not uncommon on Facebook, often drawing in victims, like this recent scam, with offers of exclusive content or privileged access to new features. Such offers actually tease out users' information and account information then repost the same scam on the user's profile.

But why hasn't Facebook acted faster on this scam, that ensnares those a little too enthusiastic for the addition of the much-vaunted 'dislike button'? Graham Cluley, an independent computer security analyst who predicted that scammers would leap on expectations of the 'dislike button', spoke to SCMagazineUK.com. “To be fair, they have got better over the years... but that doesn't mean they're perfect,” said Cluley “The fundamental problem is that they are playing whack-a-mole.  Every time they bludgeon one scam to death another three will pop up somewhere else.” Cluley added, “ultimately the security team's priorities rest with other threats, rather than scams I suspect.”

Facebook declined to comment on the scam.

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