There is a rapidly growing trend on Facebook, in which scammers address the concerns of users on Facebook through groups that provide fake solutions in an attempt to build extremely large followings. Just last week I was sent the names of two or three groups which entice users to invite their friends in order to unlock extended Facebook features. The group “Change Your Facebook Profile Theme with colorbook™“, for example, tells users to invite all of their friends to a Facebook group in order to learn how to change your Facebook profile color.
The way that the colorbook group works is that they claim users will receive a notification once 75 percent of a user’s friends have joined the group. Technically, it’s pretty much impossible to determine when all or even a fraction of your friends have joined a Facebook group, which means this group is obviously a hoax. Another group uses the exact same model as the “colorbook” group except that the group claims you can access a new version of Facebook Chat once you’ve invited all of your friends.
Not only is the “NEW Facebook™ Chat Menu – Install Now!” a violation of the terms of service in regards to use of the “Facebook” trademark, but it’s also a flat out lie. While the new Facebook Chat group hasn’t gained as much traction as the colorbook group, it’s only a matter of time. These two groups also happen to be a random selection out of what is most likely thousands of groups with the sole aim of driving millions of users to them.
So what do the group administrators get once they have millions of users in their group? Oddly enough there is very little incentive for having a massive group aside from being able to send messages to users, something which is restricted once the group passes 5,000 members or so. For many users it’s simply a challenge to overcome: try to create one of the largest groups on Facebook. Years ago there were no limitations however but that all changed after the creation of one fictional character, “Brody Ruckus”.
In September 2006, Ruckus attempted to create the single largest group on Facebook as a promotional tool. An employee started a fictional student account under the name “Brody Ruckus.” The group created under the name “If this group reaches 100,000 my girlfriend will have a threesome” drew membership on the claim that if 100,000 people joined, the fictional character’s girlfriend “Holly” (based on a real-life friend of the employee) would have a threesome with “Ruckus” and another woman. Within a week, the group had reached 100,000 members. “Brody Ruckus” then promised to post pictures of his sexual encounter online if 300,000 people joined. Within seven days, the group membership had exceeded 400,000 and “Ruckus” wrote that if the group became the largest on Facebook, he would post a video of his threesome. Facebook administrators deleted the “Brody Ruckus” profile and his group, since it represented a breach in the site’s Terms of Service agreement, specifically with reference to: “impersonating any person or entity, or falsely stating or otherwise misrepresenting yourself, your age or your affiliation with any person or entity.”
The result was not only that “Brody Ruckus” was removed from the site, but also that Facebook decided to implement messaging restrictions on Facebook groups to prevent others from gaming the system. Despite the messaging restrictions however, users clearly attempt to game the system in an attempt to collect the most users within groups and Facebook Pages. It’s an odd game, but with a world filled with Facebook users who appear to have all the time in the world, scam (or “spam”) Facebook groups have become an integral component of the site.
While the groups profiled in this article will most likely be shut down in a short amount of time, many more will takes their place in the land of social graph spam.