Looking back on it, that link your friend supposedly "liked" on Facebook probably did look pretty bogus. But you couldn't help it - you just had to see the video of the fatal April fools joke or the top 10 public proposals gone wrong. Or you got a message from a friend saying "OMG I can't believe this video of you" and just had to see what she was talking about. And now there's an automatic post on your page and in your friends' news feeds and an app buried in your account broadcasting your info to who knows where. Or worse yet, your account has been hacked and your friends are filling your wall with complaints that you're spamming them. So now what?
Here's what to do if you accidentally click on a spam or malware Facebook link:
- If you see a popup asking for access to your account, it's not too late! Click "Don't Allow" and get the heck out of there.
- If you do indeed go all the way, navigate your way out of whatever application page the link has redirected you to, go to your wall and delete the post that will inevitably appear there. It will look exactly like the link you clicked on in your news feed. You can also report it as spam at that point as well.
- On the bottom right corner of your Privacy Settings landing page, click "Edit your settings" under Apps and Websites
- Click "Edit Settings" on the next page to see the full list of Apps you have installed
- Click the X on the right side to remove any suspicious apps that you don't recognize (while you're at it, this is a good time to do some app spring cleaning - apps can automatically access and distribute your information at any time, so get rid of it if you're not using it!)
- OR - click "Edit Settings" next to individual apps to change the way they are able to interact with you
(Don't believe that apps actually do access your info? Check out the "Last data access" line and click "See details" to see what info the app accessed and when. You'll be shocked.)
- If you realize your account has been compromised, Facebook can help. Click here: http://www.facebook.com/help/?page=420 to fight back.
- If you think your account has been hacked, but you are still able to log in, change your password as soon as possible.
- Spam links are fairly easy to spot based on the URL and the teaser-style preview - if you really want to see Miley's latest scandalous photos, run a search in your favorite engine instead.
- Check out the text of the URL - spam pages usually have very short, generic URLs designed to look innocuous.
- If you click the link and are asked for permission for an app to access your account for you to be able to see it, it's malware. Click "Don't Allow" and get out of there.
- If you see a link in your news feed or on a friends' page that you know is spam or malware, report it! (If you have a good relationship with your friend, you can also politely mention to him or her that the link is spam and explain how to remove it and avoid such junk in the future.)
I hope this post has helped you learn a little bit more about spam and malware on Facebook, what to do when you interact with it and how to recognize and avoid it.We don't all have to be the spam police, but a cleaner news feed and a safe account makes everyone happy.