Timeline-related scams develop on Facebook

A number of scammers are taking advantage of Timeline backlash by developing pages that include deceptive instructions on how to revert to the old profile. These fraudulent Facebook pages prompt users to click a number of Like buttons, invite friends, watch YouTube videos and download files. Timeline, however, is permanent once a user opts in to try it, and will be mandatory across the site within weeks.

Despite Facebook’s efforts to educate users about the new profile, some people have misconceptions that make them susceptible to scams like these. We have found 16 Timeline-related scam pages, which have collectively gained more than 71,000 likes. The largest, with nearly 19,000 likes, has been around for at least two weeks. These pages are among the top search results when searching Facebook for “timeline.”

The social network has been unable to keep up with the volume of pages that are fraudulent or otherwise in violation of Facebook terms. There are few, if any, preventative measures to keep these pages from being created. The company relies on users to report pages after the fact. Systems prioritize these reports and a team of reviewers respond by removing the page or alerting law enforcement if necessary. With 800 million people using the site, many issues can be resolved this way, but the new crop of Timeline-related scams shows the need for improvement, both in reducing Facebook scams and helping users understand how to protect themselves.

“We work hard to educate users on how to be safe through our blog and the Facebook and Facebook Security pages,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We regularly update the Facebook Security page and its over 5 million fans with tips and information about new threats. We also work with outside experts on education initiatives.”

As of this writing, the Facebook Security page has not warned users of claims to deactivate Timeline. There is also nothing in the Help Center explicitly telling people that the feature cannot be removed.

Users who find fraudulent pages should use the “Report Page” button on the lower left hand side of the page.