Social media memes may seem harmless fun, but they’re a boon for scammers and ID thieves according to Kate Bevan. Do you agree?
Are your friends making Facebook worse? Scrolling through it the other day, I grew increasingly exasperated as I saw content from pages with witless names such as ‘Granny’s off her meds again’, ‘Piano Moms’, ‘Mummy needs gin’ and ‘Ominous positivity memes’.
I don’t subscribe to any of those, so why were they cluttering up my feed?
The answer? My friends are interacting with them. It’s bad enough having content from pages I don’t follow shoved into my feed, but more infuriating is the dross they push out: it’s engagement-bait; questions designed to get people to click and reply.
‘Tell me you’re old without telling me how old you are’. Or emoji-splattered posts such as ‘If your vagina or penis was named after the last TV show/ movie u watched what would it be…’ (sic).
Now, your Facebook is yours to do as you like with. But when you engage with this stuff, you’re making Facebook worse for everyone. You’re making it worse for your friends because your interactions on those posts end up in their feeds. And you’re making it worse for everyone because these pages – at best – are designed to accumulate engagements.
Once they’ve got lots of comments, likes and follows, they can be sold to unscrupulous marketers or scammers who strip the page of its previous name and content, and fill it with fake competitions or worse.
Using your personal information
The high number of followers makes the page look legitimate. In some cases, these pages facilitate ID theft. That question about your mother’s maiden name or where you were born? Scammers can use this type of information to, for example, reset passwords.
I’m on Facebook to keep in touch with people I love: my cousin in New York, my friend from my elementary school in Canada, my siblings, my friends. I want to see my friends’ pets and holiday snaps.
Your friends are probably more interested in your pet pictures than your answers to the witless questions this type of content promotes.
How do you feel about these pages? Do you agree that Facebook would be a better place without them? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
This column appears in the September issue of Which? magazine.