Like a lot of people, I use Facebook to stay in touch with family and friends. I also use it to promote myself as an author, although I’ve found it to be pretty ineffective in that respect (as I posted here).
But while it’s fun to catch up with the family and some of the posts are very entertaining, Facebook can be a dangerous place too. Dangerous, that is, in terms of sending you off to websites that might add a little something extra to your computer that you’d just as soon not have.
You’ve probably noticed the “Sponsored” content over on the right hand side of your Facebook page. Lots of ads there, some of them quite enticing. They change frequently. To the right is a screenshot I took of ads that appeared on my page recently.
You might have to click on that image and enlarge it to read the text. It’s perfectly safe to click since it’s just a jpeg image.
But the original ads would not have been safe to click. Although each one has a link displayed as part of the ad (enchantmen.com, lyft.com, weightwatchers.com, zulily.com), the true link for each ad is entirely different. Clicking that ad will send you not to Weight Watchers or Zulily, but to a site with malware.
As a user of Facebook, this is distressing, both with regards to the damage these sites could do to my computer, but also because of the fraud aspect. Facebook is taking money from companies that represent themselves dishonestly.
As an author who has used Facebook to promote, this is unsettling because I don’t want ads for my books to appear alongside scams. How would a reader know whether a click on my book cover would take them to Amazon where they can buy my ebook, or if they’ll end up on a site that downloads some kind of malware onto their computer?
Facebook does have a form I can fill out to report these fraudulent ads. But honestly, I’d be submitting forms all day long because based my observations, few of the ads in the sponsored section are genuine. Maybe my Facebook page is a scam magnet, and no other users out there are having the same experience as me. But it seems to me that Facebook is not performing due diligence in allowing those ads to run in the first place. And I’d say it’s their responsibility to fix the problem and not mine.
Here are some guaranteed genuine links for my latest books. Just click on the cover to buy.