Facebook community forum swamped by spam during Thanksgiving weekend

Live streaming spam makes Facebook's community forum hard to navigate

Facebook's community forum was flooded during the Thanksgiving weekend with spam messages that advertised live streaming links for various sporting events.

The aggressive spamming campaign made it difficult for users to get technical assistance from their peers, which is the forum's primary purpose.

It's not clear if the accounts that posted the rogue messages were registered specifically for this purpose or were legitimate accounts compromised by spammers. However, judging by the publicly visible information on some of them, their involvement in this type of activity dates back weeks or even months.

One interesting aspect is that most of the affected users have installed what appear to be rogue apps with names such as "Notes" or "Discussion Board." This opens up the possibility that their accounts were hijacked as a result of older spam campaigns that encouraged them to install those applications.

Even though this live-streaming spam has been going on for quite a while, the attack detected during the Thanksgiving weekend resulted in rogue topics appearing on the forum every single minute, according to a blog that tracks Facebook privacy and security issues.

This was possibly an attempt to take advantage of the fact that U.S. companies are usually understaffed during this period. Facebook did not respond to requests for comment.

The spammed links directed users to websites offering subscription-based Internet TV services and despite what the rogue messages suggested, there was nothing free about their offers.

At the end of October, Facebook published an infographic, which said that spam represents less than 4 percent of content shared on the social networking website and affects under 0.5 percent of users on any given day. Of course, for Facebook 0.5 percent represents over 4 million users, which is a considerable number.

As usual, Facebook users should be wary of all unsolicited messages that ask them to install applications and should carefully review the permissions requested by those apps, as well as their popularity. Users should also immediately notify their friends if they see them spamming unusual messages.

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Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
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