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Question: I fell for one of those Facebook scams. How do I make sure none
of it is left on my Timeline and avoid that kind of mistake in the future?
Answer. This question most recently came from a friend who, in a moment of weakness, tried to claim an alleged offer for two free tickets on Southwest Airlines. First, this person reported seeing the free-tickets ad on the profile of a trusted friend. A click on that opened a tiny browser window (unnoticed at first) and then copied the same scammy ad to my friend's profile. It also opened a normal-sized browser window asking for personal information to claim the free tickets; my friend was suspicious enough by then to provide an incorrect birthday and back out after being asked to pay $9.99 a month. But at that point, the bogus ad had littered the profiles of many Facebook pals. Later on, my friend also received telemarketing calls, spam text messages (if you get those, ask your carrier to waive any charges you'd pay to receive them), and about 50 more junk e-mails a day than before. What happened here? The scam worked by exploiting a form of temporary authentication Facebook (like other sites) uses to avoid asking users to enter their passwords all the time. Frederic Wolens, a Facebook security manager, explained that "user access token" hijacking enables the scammer to impersonate the victim. "They can act as if they were the user until that access token has been invalidated by Facebook," he wrote. "Most of the time we try and invalidate these tokens as soon as we detect a scam." The hijacking could have happened in the tiny window the ad opened at first…
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