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.
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.
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.
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.
Once the message has been liked and shared by enough Facebook users, it’s edited and replaced with a scam message.
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.
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:
- Facebook users from Africa say Tennessee prisoner an active serial killer in US cities? No, weird warning a hoax
- Facebook fraudsters up to new tricks: Go2Bank scam spread by editing ordinary posts
- Girl in blue ‘missing’ across the USA? No, just another Facebook scam
- Serial killer, missing child, missing dog? Beware the new Facebook post editing scam
- ‘Download App, Sign Up and Get Rewarded’? No! Beware new Facebook post editing scam
- No, community nappy drive fake. Don’t fall for an increasingly popular Facebook scam
- Bear 1, vehicle 0? No, story of bear locked in car just step one in Facebook scammers’ new trick
Our guide to Facebook scams and how to spot them gives more advice on keeping yourself safe from online predators.
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For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false
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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.