A trick by scammers could target billions of users of popular social media apps.
Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, was forced to take legal action to try and stop the scam affecting millions of users on its platforms Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.
The sites are hugely popular and Facebook is the world's biggest social media networking site. Statista recorded a whopping 2.89 billion monthly active users in the second quarter of 2021 on Facebook, alone.
In the first quarter of 2021, the company stated that 3.51 billion people were using at least one of Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, or Messenger every month.
It means that any scam that targets these sites have the possibility of affecting a huge amount of people.
So what is the scam?
What is the social media scam affecting Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram?
A common phishing scam, that works to trick people into sharing account details, has led to Meta needing to take legal action to prevent Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp users.
Meta said: "We filed a federal lawsuit in California court to disrupt phishing attacks designed to deceive people into sharing their login credentials on fake login pages for Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp."
The type of scam is known as 'phishing' and can lead people to give up their details willingly, through a clever trick.
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This has the potential to lead people to give up their banking information, or key passwords and sensitive information about their identification.
People have been encouraged to set up a two-step verification process on their social media account to make sure they are not the victim of a phishing attack.
What is phishing?
Phishing is when hackers attempt to pass themselves off as the real Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp apps to unsuspecting people using their websites.
The purpose of this is to steal account information or bank details of users in order to scam them out of money or attempt identity fraud.
It is not limited to just these apps and websites, and people should constantly be on the lookout for scams like this.
Meta said: "This phishing scheme involved the creation of more than 39,000 websites impersonating the login pages of Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. On these websites, people were prompted to enter their usernames and passwords."
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Scammers were able to conceal the websites and conceal their own identities using something known as a "relay-service."
How do I avoid phishing scams?
The website Phishing.com has a useful guide aimed at showing people how they can go about avoiding scams like phishing.
They say that five key steps will generally make sure that people can avoid them
- People can become victims through lucrative or eye-catching offers. They advise: "If it seems to good to be true, it probably is!"
- Scammers may also encourage urgency in the people they target. A 'limited offer' may be a clear sign of a phishing scam.
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- Check spelling and hyperlinks as there may be an error in there somewhere
- Don't click attachments in emails that you did not expect to be there.
- If you are unsure where the email, text or suspected website came from, don't use it.
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