Like announcers who break into your favorite TV show, I interrupt my series on Ethics to bring you an important message, a message about Facebook scams. What does this have to do with my area of expertise? Call it Defense against the Dark Arts of Persuasion.

Signs of a scammer’s meme:

  1. Requests that you “like,” share or copy and paste into your own post.
  2. This request is contained within the body of the meme.
  3. It tugs at your emotions, often attempting to guilt-trip anyone who doesn’t comply with the request. Examples:
    • “If you appreciate nurses, share…”
    • “We’ll see how many of you really read my posts…”
    • “You say you believe in (some cause or principle). Prove it by copying and pasting…”

What do the scammers do if you comply? The least harmful thing is mine your data, likes and dislikes in order to target you with sales pitches, or worse.

The most harmful is to set up a second Facebook account or page in your name, but they do it so that you don’t see the new one. Posing as the “new” you, they prey on your friends by posting additional scams or propaganda. Or they post malicious material to embarrass or discredit you. Why would anyone want to do that? It’s their sick idea of fun or a feeling of power.

In either case, if you comply with the request to share, you set up your friends to be scammed as well.

If you would like to protect an innocent friend (and their friends) who, heart in the right place, shared a suspicious meme, I suggest you message them privately, rather than by way of comment to the meme. And feel free to share this article.

Keep cool–and learn how to keep your cool–by relaxing with Love on the Rocks with a Twist, Delightful Fiction with Lessons on Dealing with Others.