Already facing an uphill misinformation fight, Facebook loses to scammers, too

A partial screenshot of one of the profiles pushing an adult dating scam on Facebook.

Enlarge / A partial screenshot of one of the profiles pushing an adult dating scam on Facebook.

Responding to critics in the US Congress and elsewhere who say Facebook isn’t doing enough to stop the flow of disinformation, the social network in recent days has purged hundreds of accounts it found were designed to sway elections, sow social division, and prop up ruthless governments. The focus has left an opening for scammers who routinely use Facebook to send unsuspecting users to fraudulent dating sites.

Randy Abrams, a senior security analyst at Webroot, told Ars that the account belonging to one of his family members was recently compromised. The people behind the compromise used the hacked account to send Abrams requests to like various accounts, which all showed images of scantily clad women inviting visitors to view videos. Many of the fake profiles had followers and likes in excess of 6,500, an indication the scam has been gaining traction. At the time this post went live, the campaign remained active, even after Ars reported it to the company’s PR representatives.

The videos redirected to a variety of sites that invited viewers to meet nearby women who wanted sex. Many of the images on these sites showed nude women and asked visitors to enter credit card numbers to proceed. Clicking the browser’s back arrow created an endless series of new sites. The only way to get out of the never-ending loop was to close the tab.

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