Posted by: David Harley | April 6, 2010

Facebook: free or fee?

Graham Cluley has blogged at length about a Facebook group based on the false story that Facebook will be charging a monthly fee from July 9th. According to the Telegraph, Facebook denied this back in January 2010.

This is another example of Facebook messaging being used instead of email for the dissemination of chain letters, and looks as if it was influenced by older chain email such as this one, which suggests that “Bill 602P will permit the Federal government to charge a 5% surcharge on every email delivered, by billing Internet Service Providers at source. The consumer would then be billed in turn by the ISP.”

As it turns out, this is just the latest in a series of chainletters and hoaxes about Facebook’s plans to charge, according to another Facebook page set up to counter them. See: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Face-Book-will-never-charge-users-The-facts-the-truth/262579709805 . (Unfortunately, its 11,442 fans are somewhat dwarfed by the 189,000 fans of “NO, I WILL NOT PAY £3.99 A MONTH TO USE FACE BOOK FROM JULY 9TH 2010”.)

Graham suggests that:

The Facebook group could have been created as a prank, but my guess is that it’s more likely that whoever is behind it (and many other similar groups and pages) are hoping to add as many members as possible in the hope of spamming and scamming them in future.

In the past, hoaxers have tended to be driven by the urge to see their drivel spread far and wide, because it makes them feel good to think they’re cleverer than their victims. At least, in so far as it’s possible to penetrate the murky psyches of such social misfits.

Nowadays, however, the take-up of hoax topics by criminal gangs for SEO poisoning and similar techniques for promoting malware such as fake antivirus does suggest that some hoaxers, at least, have a more commercial agenda behind their activities. You might compare it to the way that malware authors have moved away from Proof-of-Concept malware written for kudos and bragging rights to writing Trojans for profit.

David Harley FBCS CITP CISSP
Mac Virus
Small Blue-Green World
AVIEN Chief Operations Officer
ESET Research Fellow & Director of Malware Intelligence

Also blogging at:
http://www.eset.com/blog
http://www.macvirus.com/
http://avien.net/blog/
http://smallbluegreenblog.wordpress.com/
http://blogs.securiteam.com
http://blog.isc2.org/
http://dharley.wordpress.com
http://amtso.wordpress.com

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