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‘I know I’m ugly’? Sad birthday message just another scam

IN SHORT: It’s my birthday, but no one blessed me. This heartfelt message – by a dog? a person? – has been posted all over Facebook. But as soon as it’s been noticed and shared enough it’s edited, in a familiar scam.

“Today is my birthday, I know I’m ugly but no one ever blessed me!” read near identical emoji-filled messages posted on many Facebook group pages in November 2022.

But they are part of a now common scam.

The messages all, rather cruelly, include a photo: sometimes of an injured or disabled dog, other times of an unusual-looking, old or or disabled person.

They can also be seen here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

The birthday messages have prompted lots of Facebook reactions – “love” and “care”. And users have commented kind words, such as: “Enjoy your Birthday! You are not ugly! Allow yourself to smile and laugh!”

What the users don’t know is that the sad messages will soon be edited, replaced with a scam. Africa Check has been exposing what we’ve called the Facebook post editing scam for months.

Birthday_Scam

Innocent messages turn nasty

Here’s how the scam works.

An attention-grabbing message is posted on Facebook community and other group pages. It seems innocent, so it’s let through by page moderators. But exactly the same message is posted on many, many pages.

today_is_my_birthday_scam

Once the message has been liked and shared by enough Facebook users, it’s edited and replaced with a scam message.

In this case, it’s the EBT prepaid card scam, which we exposed in August. You can see the edited scam message here, here, here and here.

It’s often difficult to work out exactly how a scam works.

But most Facebook post editing scams try to get users to download an app. This is likely to install malware on their devices. The malware could then steal valuable personal information such as credit card details. It could even take over the person’s online identity.

sad_birthday_editing_history

To see the edit history of any Facebook post, click the three dots at its top right.

Find out more about the Facebook post editing scam – and how to protect yourself against it – in our extensive earlier reporting:

Our guide to Facebook scams and how to spot them gives more advice on keeping yourself safe from online predators.

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Further Reading

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