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What the Tech: Facebook takes action against viral posts

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By JAMIE TUCKER, Consumer Technology Reporter

It took some time, but Facebook has started labeling a viral scam that tricks people into sharing a post that does absolutely nothing other than help hackers and scammers.

You've probably come across posts from friends saying, “OMG IT WORKED.” The posts claim that copying and pasting the text into their own post will prevent Facebook from accessing your information, removing ads, and seeing more posts from more of your friends.

This week, Facebook began labeling or tagging some of these posts as “False Information.” These posts are no longer visible unless the user specifically clicks “View Post.”

Of course, copying and pasting the text doesn't help. Some posts claim that even a local TV station reported on it.

And this is how the scam works:

By posting the exact text, hackers can search Facebook for keywords like “OMG it worked” or “Yeeeeeeesssss.” The search will then return all Facebook users who have posted the text publicly.

Scammers can then target these users in a variety of ways, such as cloning their accounts and sending fake friend requests to all their friends.

Some of the posts contain comments from scammers offering to remove malware and return victims' accounts. This is also false. They either ask for money up front or send links to install malware on users' computers.

You can also send posters and their friends messages, emails and texts that look like a Facebook login.

In short, scammers detect gullible Facebook users who fall for such tricks and assume they are easy victims.

The aim of labeling these posts as “misinformation” is to reduce the number of people who click on and share the posts.

The question is: “Why did it take so long for Facebook to flag the posts?”

It has been around since at least 2012 and many more posts are marked as “false information” with the same tag every day.

I have contacted Facebook but have not received a response yet.