Scammers are taking advantage of a Facebook user backlash to the new ‘Timeline' profile feature by developing pages with deceptive instructions on how to revert to the old-style layout.
According to the insidefacebook.com blog, fraudulent Facebook pages have appeared that prompt users to click a number of Like buttons, invite friends, watch YouTube videos and download files. It claimed to have found 16 Timeline-related scam pages that had collectively gained more than 71,000 likes and that these were among the top results when searching Facebook with the phrase "Timeline".
The feature, which divides a user's profile by date going back to when they first joined the social network, is permanent once a user opts in to try it and will be mandatory across the site within weeks.
Writing on the allfacebook.com blog, David Cohen said Facebook features have been the subject of scams before, most notably the nonexistent ‘dislike' button; but the Facebook Security page contains no warning about these scams, nor does the social network's help centre mention the fact that Timeline cannot be removed after the first seven days of use.
A Facebook spokesperson said: “We work hard to educate users on how to be safe through our blog and the Facebook and Facebook Security pages. We regularly update the Facebook Security page and its over five million fans with tips and information about new threats. We also work with outside experts on education initiatives.”
Stephen Cobb, security evangelist at ESET, said: “As I understand it, the day is coming when every Facebook user will have to use Timeline. I'm thinking that day is when the confusion will really snowball because a lot of people will decide they don't like Timeline and wonder to themselves, ‘can I remove Timeline'? The scam artists and click-jackers are getting ready for that day, offering bogus links on Facebook that promise Timeline removal.
“After several other steps, including inviting all your friends to like the page, you get this message, ‘Wait For Few Days Your Reuest Will be forwarded To The Timeline Office' [sic]. Hopefully nobody out there believes there is a Timeline Office.
“Unless Facebook changes its mind and makes Timeline optional, the bottom line is that you will have to live with it and avoid the temptation to click on links promising to help you deactivate, remove or disable Timeline; they are just not worth the risk.”