MFG 2.0

Apple, Southwest, Wal-Mart All Targets Of Facebook Scams

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I was going to title this blog post, "What do these three brands and Miley Cyrus have in common?" but I know my audience, and Miley's just not that big a hook for the enterprise executive layer.

Today's post is inspired by my Facebook news feed filling up with declarations by gullible relatives about how much they love Southwest. I know Southwest does a great job of branding and encouraging customer loyalty, but I wondered, what prompted this overwhelming outpouring of emotion that resembled nothing so much as a tween swooning over the latest Miley Cyrus song?

After literally 5 seconds of digging, the result became clear. A Facebook scam, hijacking Southwest's good name to drive clicks to a customer survey site that was offering thousands of pairs of "free tickets, good for any travel within the USA!" in exchange for what seems like a simple "share" but turns out to be six surveys deep. Obviously anyone with any knowledge of airline operations (or, marketing) would stop for a moment and think, "How can Southwest give away this many tickets for two clicks from a consumer?"

Answer: they can't, and wouldn't. Nor can Wal-Mart give away thousands of gift cards, nor can Apple unleash thousands of free Macbook Airs into the market for the cost of a "Like".

When in doubt, don't trust -- and do verify. For instance, if Southwest were giving away anything valuable, they'd do it using (or at least they'd announce it somewhere on) their official Facebook presence. A quick check of their Facebook page reveals nothing (which actually, given that this same scam is spreading around the Face-sphere for at least the third time, is a failure-to-address that I leave at the feet of their community manager (or, most likely, ad agency partner).

If you're tempted to get something for nothing, here's a must-read post, courtesy of Facecrooks.com, that should scare you straight.

Here are some other great recommendations, courtesy of SCAMWatch (h/t Softpedia):

- never click on suspicious links contained in ads posted on social networks, not even if they're coming from your friends;
- beware of surveys that are linked to posts from social media sites;
- companies do give away free products sometimes, but to check the authenticity of an offer, contact the company and ask them or at least check out their official website as it will surely mention something; (emphasis mine)
- be careful when sharing personal information and avoid such practices whenever possible;
- online social networking profiles should be set to private, the information posted on them in many cases offering cybercriminals the edge they need to approach you;
- strong passwords, different for each account, are highly recommended as this way, if an account gets phished, the others will remain safe;
- don't accept friend requests from strangers;
- if by mistake you provide financial information to a stranger or a website, immediately call the bank involved and ask them to monitor your transactions.

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