Fake Accounts are Taking Over Facebook
Health Nut News Note: If you are coming here from Justice.One – It appears they redirected their website here and were not able to stay up anymore, but here is their article I reposted of theirs with full permission:
If you are a member of a Facebook chronic illness group on Facebook –you’ve almost certainly seen it before –whether or not you even realized it.
There is a company based in Pakistan that has, for over a year now, been creating hundreds of thousands of fake facebook accounts, joining groups (all types of groups, but overwhelmingly medical condition-related groups), and posting, what appear (to the unknowing eye) to be “articles”.
Most of the time they will repeat the title of the “article” in their post; a copy & pasted version –with every single word, capitalization, and punctuation being 100% identical to the “article’s” title. Occasionally a few words will be added before or after the pasted title in poor English, (i.e. must please & share!). If different people are posting the same article to different groups, the exact same thing is still typed. Here is just one of many examples:
They are harmful, malware infused, Pirate sites
Now the reason the word “articles” is in quotations is because these sites are not what they appear to be. These sites try to appear to be your typical article writing website, but there is a lot more than what meets the eye.
They draw you in by having attractive titles of popular articles. And when you go to the site, you really do get the article… but a pirated version of that article.
What they do is they steal popular articles from other websites without giving credit to those sites or authors. They also hyperlink the data rich content from the sites they are stealing from. Hyperlinking is a form of bandwidth theft that essentially drives traffic through the servers of the victim site. In many cases (particularly when the pirate site gets popular and data intensive content -like multiple images, GIFs, or videos- are hyperlinked) this overrides and crashes the server, shutting down the website they stole from. Or, for bigger websites, this means adding on additional serves, which are very expensive. For smaller sites, this may mean losing their site altogether. This form of theft is illegal in the US and many parts of the world.
According to DMCA reports, chronically ill bloggers have lost their personal blogs to these guys and charities are paying hundreds in hosting fees to keep their websites up and running.
Futhermore, on the sites that have been banned by Adsense, if you happen to accidentally click on something once you are reading an “article”, some of these sites may include malware which could result in picking up unwanted cookies, computer virus, or even a keyloggers that can be used to record your internet activity, usernames and passwords. (don’t worry though, as long as you don’t open up any links and don’t agree to install an app, you should be OK!)
They are adding you as “friends” to clone your Facebook account
These fake people are creating new accounts by cloning the “friends” of other accounts. Beware when someone adds you as a friend on Facebook that you do not know. Often times they will be posing as someone who has a chronic illness.
They are getting away with it because of this:
Usually no website would ever be able to get away with this. Under normal circumstances, if a website is caught plagiarizing other site’s article they have their servers taken down by the DMCA after the victim site submits a request. But this company has found a way around that by paying out a hosting company so the DMCA can’t get to it. Also, as for their illegal activities, the US and other countries (where what they are doing is illegal) do not have jurisdiction in Pakistan.
Although there have been reports of some sites (who’ve put a lot of time and money into it) getting lucky: They’ve managed to get their content taken down… 4+ months later (after they’ve stolen and made their money)… only to have it put back up again on a different site .. or 2… or 3…. or more sites
How to tell if the website is a pirated site:
Go to www.domainwhitepages.com and type in (or paste) the website in question.
Approximately 90% are based in Pakistan (usually Islamabad or Rawalpindi, Punjab), and the rest are hidden by a privacy company and list Panama as it’s country.
You can also try googling the first few sentences of the article in question to find the original version.
Here are some tips to look for to know if the site is a pirate site just by looking at it:
- If you see a brilliant article that’s written by “Admin” (or there is a common name but no information about the author)
- If the pictures are either not working, too big compared to the “article,” OR when you right-click on a picture and look at the image location -you see a DIFFERENT website (the victim’s site)
- If there is no site LOGO and little effort is put into the site (usually no Facebook comments, no fb likes, and no categories, they are using WordPress site templates and the title or footer still says “Just another WordPress site” or something similar)
- There are no links to their Facebook page and either no contact info or example contact info
- Clicking on an apparent Facebook or twitter page button doesn’t work
- No visible comments (this is because all comments are “moderated” and the vast majority never get approved)
Tips for group admins:
Before you add them: see what date they joined Facebook (currently this feature is only available in the mobile app). The easiest way to tell after they join is to type their name in the search box. If they are only sharing links to one site that is a red flag. When you click on their personal page, they are usually hiding their friends list (or have under 20 friends), They may also only have under 6 or so pictures with few to no likes or comments.
Real accounts (of the people who are behind the fake accounts) are part of this scam too. Be wary of real Facbook accounts of people from Pakistan.
Group admins -act now. Chances are not only will this company read this article and change their defining features, but they will also plagiarize, hotlink, and malware infect this very article. If you are not reading this article on Justice. One then it was stolen.
*****UPDATE***** THIS ARTICLE HAS ALREADY BEEN STOLEN (and hilariously edited I might ad)
What to do if you see an “article” posted on Facebook you want to read?
Type in the title of the article into Facebook search and the real article will likely appear.
(Or, if you are already on the site, right click an image to see the image location of the site the image is coming from and/ or type in the title or a random paragraph into a search engine.)
A list of their Pirate Sites:
In addition, here is a list of their sites Justice One has generated so far. They have over a hundred sites in total and continue to make new sites to prevent people from getting suspicious. The following list will continue to be be updated until these guys are shut down:
*sub domains are not included (for example, the site Health.infoHealthWeb.info is listed here under the domain infoHealthWeb.info)
Bookmark this page for updates on this list.
Have sites to add to list?
Q: Why is this the only article on this site? A: Not only is this the only article on this site, but this is also the only article (of mine) on this server. I am a web developer and I did not want any backlash cyber attacks from this Pakistanian company to harm the rest of my work.
Q: What encouraged you to write this article: I am a volunteer web developer for a charity. One day our site started crashing. I managed to track it down to this pirating company. What happened is that one of the articles on our site got stolen and the stolen version went viral, overloading the server. We lost a lot of money that month and had to move to a bigger, more expensive server. Plus, they never even sourced where they got the article from or gave credit to the author. And then when I heard about my chronically sick friend having to shut down her blog because of these guys and people getting their facebook accounts cloned and computers hacked, I knew I had to do something.
*UPDATE 2* (from Justice One) I’m not sure how long I can keep this page up so I am highly encouraging others to copy and paste this into their Facebook notes or blogs with a link back to this article. You totally have my permission! Thank you.
*Article originally appeared on Justice. Reposted with permission.*