Irony alert: When Facebook blocks a warning about a scam

For many years I have shared advice with other computer users about the threats which can spread across the internet.

And, with the rise of social networks like Facebook, regular net users have found themselves exposed to new kinds of attacks where scammers try to trick you into clicking on a link in the belief that you will see a shocking video.

The most recent example is the purported video claiming to show the deaths of 18 people in a roller coaster accident at Universal Studios, Florida.

Scam message spreading on Facebook

It is, of course, nonsense. But the scammers want your curiousity to get the better of you, and for you to click on the link and unwittingly share it with your online friends.

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So, what do I do? I write an article all about the scam, warning Facebook users not to be duped. And it is duly shared by Facebook users over a thousand times.

And what does Facebook do? It blocks the link to my warning article – believing it to be the scam itself.

Facebook erroneously blocks a link

You can’t post this because it has a blocked link

The content you’re trying to share includes a link that our security systems detected to be unsafe:

“18 Dead in shocking roller coaster accident” Facebook scam

Please remove this link to continue.

If you think you’re seeing this by mistake, please let us know.

Sometimes I feel like hitting my head against a brick wall when folks can’t tell the difference between a scam and a *warning* about a scam.


Update: Well, there’s a happy ending. Facebook saw me tweet about this issue and fixed it. Hooray for them! (You don’t hear me say that very often, so enjoy it :) )

Thanks Michael.

PS. It was good to see some people had the right response…

If you are on Facebook, and want to be kept updated with news about security and privacy risks, and tips on how to protect yourself online, join the Graham Cluley Security News Facebook page.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

2 comments on “Irony alert: When Facebook blocks a warning about a scam”

  1. Coyote

    Re: "@gcluley That's appalling behaviour! I shall boycott them… until at least lunch."
    Classic. Humour aside (and I hope he was only joking and is not this serious but I know some are hence the next part). Shows how much people are into it (and think the world cares what they do 24/7).

    Yes, it is indeed ironic that they would block an alert over the scam… I don't know as I don't use facebook (waste of time as far as I'm concerned) but I really hope the scam is either cleaned up (at least where facebook can, like say, on their site… malware or such on other's computers well, what to do… maybe there should be a scam by facebook which installs an antivirus? That would be a good* thing though so they won't do that.) or in the process of being cleaned up. Anyone knowing me would be absolutely correct that I think neither is the answer (but I hope I'm wrong at the same time).

    *of course, multiple antiviruses could be an issue so maybe it is not necessarily good and bad so therefore facebook SHOULD do it? Not going to happen either way, of course.

  2. Vito

    Boycott? Hey…that's about the only reason to expose myself to the hazards of Facebook that makes any sense…so I can immediately boycott them.

    Seriously, I DID have a Facebook account at one time, but their incessant changing of their "features" (always in a direction that increasingly compromised my privacy) — and always on an opt-out rather than an opt-in basis — spoke much more loudly about their REAL attitude toward privacy and security than the nonsense they trumpet to gullible users.

    The problems that such exposure of personal information will ultimately cause for those who are foolish enough to do it have yet to come home to roost, but they will. Mr. Zuckerberg won't care, he will have long since retired, fat and happy, having made a fortune on exploiting other people's vanity and desire for ego gratification.

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