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SALT LAKE CITY — How often do you pull up Facebook, often times at work, and something in our feed immediately makes us regret that decision. It's even worse if you happen to click on that image.
What you may think is a virus is actually a form of spam, and it's all over Facebook lately.
"(Hackers were) taking links that were in news feeds and were showing things that were disturbing pornographic images, mutilated people or animals," Robert Allred, chief information officer at Westminster College, told KSL News Friday.
Facebook is a tempting target for someone who wants to do something like this, because it has over 800 million users.
–Robert Allred, CIO, Westminster College
They're called "link spam," and Allred says it's hard to know the motivation behind them. But hackers are using Facebook's broad reach and user curiosity to spread mostly harmful images across the Internet.
"Facebook is a tempting target for someone who wants to do something like this, because it has over 800 million users," Allred said. "By invading a space like Facebook, you're actually getting a lot of people to see debauchery or whatever else you want them to see."
Allred says there's not a lot you can do to prevent seeing it, so he warns parents to closely monitor their children online.
But there are some things you can do to prevent spreading link spam. Most important: resist the urge to click. If you do, the spam will latch onto your account and continue to spread on your feed.
"This is something that needs to be very concerning to Facebook and something that they need to get control of right away; because if they don't, they will lose users," Allred said.
Here are a couple more things you can do to protect yourself:
- Make sure you have an updated web browser. Companies are continually updating them for security threats.
- Never copy and paste a link. Allred says sometimes it will lead you to a hacker's site. Always type it out yourself.