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Too good to be true?

Free Starbucks coffee!  Just click here to Like their page on Facebook and you’ll get a $10 gift certificate for a free coffee.  Nope, sorry, not true.  And Facebook isn’t going to start charging $15/month on January 1st either. 

There are all sorts of offers on Facebook and all sorts of stories but a number of these aren’t true.  Some of these are old chestnuts that even pre-date the internet, dusted off and given new life online. 

  • Check to see if it’s a scam/hoax. There are a number of sites that list hoax and urban legend information.  Snopes is one well known example (http://www.snopes.com).  Another is the Urban Legend pages at About.com (http://www.urbanlegends.about.com)  If it’s an offer from a company, try going directly to that company’s website to see if the offer is mentioned or if there’s a note saying it’s a hoax.
  • Be careful what you click on.  It’s a good rule of thumb for the internet in general.  Posting “show support for xyz” as your Facebook status isn’t more than a little embarrassing if it turns out to be fake.  Sharing a story or clicking on a link, even if it’s to something in Facebook, can have more repercussions.  
    • Remember URL shortening services like tinyurl.com or bit.ly can be abused to hide the true destination.  See the Techbits post Sneaky little URL’s for more information.
    • If clicking on a link brings up one of Facebook’s “Request for permission” popups, make sure the company asking for permission is the one you expect.  Take a good look because they will sometimes try to use misspellings or letter replacement (Farmville vs FarmviIIe) to make it look like it’s coming from the legitimate company and you might not notice unless you’re paying attention.
    • Check to see what permissions they’re asking for before you click on Allow.  Is it worth handing over pretty much everything in your profile, your list of friends, permission to email you and permission to post as you on Facebook, to someone else in the hopes of possibly getting a free cup of coffee ?
  • As always, make sure you have up-to-date antivirus.  While this isn’t a license to click on any and everything, it might be able to save you if it turns out it was a bad idea.



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