A false rumour suggesting that Facebook is to start charging is being used to bait malware traps.
Thousands of disgruntled punters, angry at the $4.99 a month charge for using the social
networking site that will supposedly kick in from June (or July, according to other false reports)
have been induced to visit “protest group” sites in response to spam emails. However, in reality,
there is no such plan and the protest pages often contain malware.
The protest page was a trap for the unwary; clicking on certain elements of it initiated a script that
hijacked users’ computers. Some of those who did venture a click had their computers taken over
by a series of highly objectionable images while malware simultaneously attempted to install itself
onto their computers.
Groups on Facebook itself protesting the supposed upcoming charges remain active almost two weeks
later. A quick check on one such UK group contains no scripting unpleasantness directly, but it does
link to numerous third-party sites whose provenance remains suspect. Searching for “Facebook charges
July 2010″ leads to fake blog entries as well as some legitimate results, evidence of an ongoing black hat
SEO campaign of a type commonly used to punt rogue security scanner software over recent months.
A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed the charging rumour was false, adding that it was prepared to
clamp down on groups spreading the bogus gossip about social networking fees.
“We have removed the largest groups, however, we didn’t find any malicious links.
We take security very seriously and respond quickly to user reports of suspicious
content and behaviour.”
Despite Facebook’s actions the rumour of supposed charges continues to circulate, creating an
environment that may be abused in further black hat SEO attacks