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Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic, Cybercriminals Lure Verified Facebook, Instagram Users With $1,500 per week in Disguise of Spreading Awareness

Facebook and Instagram have banned ads and commerce listings selling medical face masks on their platforms to stop people from exploiting the coronavirus emergency

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Facebook
Facebook and Instagram have banned ads and commerce listings selling medical face masks on their platforms to stop people from exploiting the coronavirus emergency. Pixabay

Cybercriminals are luring verified Facebook and Instagram users in disguise of spreading awareness about novel coronavirus (COVID-19), offering them $1,500 per week via a global email fraud.

IANS got access to such emails shared by verified Facebook users, that came from ‘health organisations’, offering money to advertise their awareness content on coronavirus on their verified handles on social media platforms like Facebook.

“World Health Organisation (WHO) is fighting against CORONA VIRUS. We want you help us through social media. We are willing to do advertisements on your Facebook page,for awareness peoples and save humans lives,” read an email that came from some obscure health organization.

The sender approached the verified Facebook user with conditions such as publishing 1 content per day, “we will pay you $1500 per week,” payment terms like PayPal, Western Union, payoneer, or any other way you can ask us”.

Terms and condition included Facebook verification to join website and add page to publish contents. “Assign any admin in publishing tool who can publish our contents every day for 4 weeks but you can stop any time you want,” said the sender.

According to Manan Shah, Founder and CEO of Mumbai-based Avalance Global Solutions, this is an ongoing email scam and several verified Facebook users are falling for it. “I think Facebook and Instagram, apart from temporarily banning face mask commerce listings and ads related to coronavirus, must also address this email fraud that is happening in the disguise of WHO to spread awareness,” Shah told IANS.

Facebook and Instagram have banned ads and commerce listings selling medical face masks on their platforms to stop people from exploiting the coronavirus emergency.

Facebook said that coronavirus-related searches on its platform would be greeted with an automatic pop-up featuring information from the WHO.

hackers
Cybercriminals are luring verified Facebook and Instagram users in disguise of spreading awareness about novel coronavirus (COVID-19), offering them $1,500 per week via a global email fraud. Pixabay

The company said it will no longer allow people to search for COVID-19 related AR effects on Instagram, unless they were developed in partnership with a recognized health organization. According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook is focused on stopping hoaxes and harmful misinformation.

“We’re removing false claims and conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations. We’re also blocking people from running ads that try to exploit the situation — for example, claiming that their product can cure the disease,” he said in a post last week.

ALSO READ: COVID-19 Has Caused a “Natural State of Disaster”: South Africa

According to Shah, Facebook can reach out to verified account holders, warning them not to fall for such email fraud. (IANS)

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Spread of Fake News on high Rise on Facebook, Twitter Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic

Jumbling of content makes viewers less likely to check sources

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Fake News
The findings of a researcch show the dangers of people getting their news from social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, Pixabay

In novel coronavirus times, there is so much fake news going around and according to new research, there’s a price to pay when you get your news and political information from the same place you find funny memes and cat pictures.

Jumbling of content makes viewers less likely to check sources, said the team from Ohio State University, adding that people viewing a blend of news and entertainment on a social media site tended to pay less attention to the source of content they consumed – meaning they could easily mistake satire or fiction for real news.

“The findings show the dangers of people getting their news from social media sites like Facebook or Twitter,” said study author George Pearson, a senior lecturer and research associate in communication at The Ohio State University.

“We are drawn to these social media sites because they are one-stop shops for media content, updates from friends and family, and memes or cat pictures,” Pearson added. People who viewed content that was clearly separated into categories – such as current affairs and entertainment – didn’t have the same issues evaluating the source and credibility of content they read.

“Jumbling of content makes everything seem the same to us. It makes it harder for us to distinguish what we need to take seriously from that which is only entertainment,” said Pearson in the study appeared in the journal New Media & Society. For the study, Pearson created a fictional social media site called “Link Me.”

The 370 participants saw four webpages with either two or four posts each. Each post consisted of a headline and short paragraph summarizing the story, as well as information on the source of the post. The sources were designed to be either high or low credibility, based on their name and description.

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Fake News, Lie, News, Media, Disinformation, Propaganda
 In novel coronavirus times, there is so much fake news going around and according to new research, there’s a price to pay when you get your news and political information from the same place you find funny memes and cat pictures. Pixabay

All posts were based on real articles or public social media posts taken from Reddit or Tumblr. The results showed that when the content was not grouped by distinct topics – in other words, news posts appeared on the same page with entertainment posts – participants reported paying less attention to the source of the content.

“They were less likely to verify source information to ensure that it was a credible source,” said Pearson. That may be one reason why satirical and other types of fake news get shared by people who evidently think it is real. One solution would be for social media companies to develop tools to distinguish content.

ALSO READ: Rise in Temperature May Double The Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: Study

But until that happens, it is up to users to pay more attention to where their news is coming from – as difficult as that may be. (IANS)