(CBS) — When you can’t help but show empathy, you may actually be falling victim to an online scam that is going viral.
The scam is emotional Facebook posts – posts that begged to be liked, commented on and shared. Experts are warning users that not all these posts are real and are raising concerns on the affects of reacting to these posts. CBS 2 New York’s Jessica Borg reports.
Chances are you have seen something like this on your Facebook newsfeed – a heartbreaking photo of a child with a life-threatening illness or an abused animal. The post urges users to like, comment or share.
And although effective on some, experts are warning folks that not all of these emotional posts are real.
“What they’re trying to do is trap you,” said digital media expert Tanya Barrios.
The scam is called “like-farming,” and puts your computer security and personal data at risk. Barrios said that the risk is not as high on Facebook, but it is when a user clicks on links connected to the posts, bringing the user to a different site.
“It’s more in terms of any links that are associated with those posts, is really going to be the scam part of it, because on Facebook itself, there’s not really data being collected on you,” Barrios said. “It’s you getting off of Facebook — that’s their goal.”
Experts said it can be difficult to figure out which Facebook posts are real and which are fake, but there are a few things you can look for that fake posts have in common:
– The post claims someone has cancer or other serious disease and needs money for surgery.
– It claims Facebook “has decided to help,” by donating a certain amount of money for “likes,” “comments,” or “shares.”
– It typically asks a Facebook user to comment, “Amen,” at the end of the post.
Another concern with fake posts is scammers stealing someone’s public photos and making up emotional stories to lure people in. This incident occurred to a family in the U.K. Scammers took a little boy’s photo and made up a story about him having cancer. The post received 2 million “shares,” and 300,000 “likes.”
If you suspect a scam, contact Facebook immediately so it can delete the post.