Category: Internet (Page 3 of 9)

Facebook Copypasta

If you see this stuff on Facebook, don’t pay it any mind. And don’t copy and paste it to your feed or anywhere else. It’s just junk, it’s Facebook copypasta, and you don’t need to be part of this paperless chain letter.

You can read more about this rubbish on Snopes. This one has been making the rounds for several years…

facebook copypasta

Have you seen something else on Facebook, where it asks/urges/demands that you copy and paste it into a new post? Don’t do it. The push for you to copy and paste on Facebook should be a red flag that something is not right.

If you choose to copy and paste something, that could be different. Perhaps you want to spread some info, but make some changes first. Maybe you want to remove a name for privacy’s sake, or edit the grammar and spelling to clean it up a bit. That’s legitimate, and you decided to do it.

But when another poster is pushing people to copy and paste, there are different reasons for that, and they are not good.

  • Facebook intends for people to spread posts using the Share function. This creates a trail, so that you can see where a post came from, leading from one Share to another. This also means that if the original Shared post is removed for any reason, the entire Share-hierarchy disappears.
    But with copypasta, every post is independent. If the original is removed, no other posts are affected. This means that a misinformation copypasta is going to be far more difficult to eradicate or correct. And it may also lead to misinformation growth, as the post may be changed and added onto with each successive copy.
  • Copypasta defeats privacy boundaries on Facebook. A post in a Facebook group cannot be shared beyond that group. Another post that was set to “Friends Only” cannot be seen by the Public, even if Shared. But copying and pasting defeats all of that, because the new post is, again, independent.
  • The originator may never be found. Facebook and other people can track a Shared post back many levels, and find the source. But after someone starts a copypasta chain letter, they may decide to delete their post that started it all, and exit stage right. Maybe they want to avoid the consequences of their actions? Like Facebook Jail?

In short: Don’t copy and paste on Facebook, unless you decide that it is prudent. Using the Share function is more sensible. But even that doesn’t prevent misinformation or harm. Think twice and check facts before passing anything on.

Starlink Satellite Train

starlink satellite train

Alright, folks: if you ever get to see this in your night sky, relax and enjoy the spectacle. This is not War of the Worlds or Independence Day or HHGTTH. It’s a Starlink Satellite Train!

Starlink is the world’s premier satellite internet service provider. And as they expand and improve service, they launch new satellites, in long strings, as shown above. Some people around the globe have been lucky enough to see these as they fly into the stratosphere and enter into service.

You might be surprised to see how many Starlink satellites we have orbiting the Earth. If you’re interested in trying to spot the next Starlink Satellite Train, you can check out this site to figure out when the next launch may be visible in the night sky. This article and this site also has information about past and future launches.

Stolen Facebook Accounts

stolen facebook accounts

There is a large rise in Facebook Account Theft right now. I can’t explain the sudden surge, but for the last few weeks, I see people complaining about and suffering from stolen Facebook accounts almost every day. We need to go over the details, so that you are prepared and protected.

How Facebook Accounts Are Stolen

Your Facebook account can be stolen when a bad guy tricks you into revealing your password. Or, a cybercriminal can attempt to reset the password on your account, and then trick you into giving them the reset/authorization code. Then, they set a new password on the account, locking you out and giving themselves all the control.

To finalize the theft, the crook replaces the email address and/or phone number on your account with their own email/number. This makes it nearly impossible for you to recover your account.

Phishing emails are a common way to take passwords from people. Messages or pop-ups that look deceptively similar to real Facebook notices can pressure people to type in their credentials. But right now, I’m seeing a lot of password-theft happening via stolen accounts, using impersonation tactics. Example:

John Doe gets a PM from his cousin, Uncle Buck. “Hey, John! I’m having trouble with my Facebook account, and I need your help. Imma send you a code — can you tell me what that number is? It’ll help me reset my password, thanks!” John Doe thinks he’s helping his uncle, so he waits for the code to arrive by text message. When it comes, he types it in and sends it over.

But Uncle Buck isn’t Uncle Buck. A cybercriminal is inside Buck’s account, and when he gets the code, it allows him to finish a password reset on John Doe’s account. John Doe soon finds this out, when he is forced out of Facebook and cannot log back in. His account has been hijacked just like Uncle Buck’s.

How to Protect Your Facebook Account

  • Never share any security code with anyone. When a numeric code is texted or messaged to you, it is for your use only. In the wrong hands, that simple code can defeat the security of an important account. This goes for Facebook, Gmail, your bank login and any other online account you use.
  • Facebook offers some basic security tips at this page. Implement as much of their advice as you can handle.
  • Consider setting up additional security features for your Facebook account, like 2FA and login alerts. More info on that at this page.
  • If you get any fishy emails or PMs from people you would normally trust, pick up the phone and call the sender. Figure out if they really sent those message, or if you’re corresponding with some impostor in Scamdinavia.
  • Change your Facebook password at the first sign of trouble.
  • Review your Facebook Profile and make sure your Friends List, phone number and other personal info is not viewable by the public. The privacy level on that info should be “Friends Only”, or better yet, “Only Me.”

What to Do If Your Facebook Account is Stolen

  • Do not delete any security-alert emails that you receive from Facebook. They could be invaluable toward recovering your Facebook. When your password, email address or other sensitive info is changed on your account, you will receive an email. Each message will state: “If you did not make this change, click here.” Sometimes, clicking where indicated is your only hope of reverting the scammer’s change!
  • Try to recover your account at www.facebook.com/hacked . Alternate links and methods are at this page. I must warn you, though, this process can be time-consuming, frustrating and ultimately unsuccessful. Facebook has made this process difficult, and there is no easy way to contact them.
  • Contact people outside of Facebook, to let them know your account has been compromised. Tell them to not trust your account until further notice. Ask them to look at your account for any suspicious posts or content. If they see anything that looks bad, suggest to them that they report it to Facebook.
  • If you want to try to call Facebook, please know that it probably will not help. They do not want to answer the phone for non-paying customers, and at this time, you cannot yet pay Facebook for proper support. But I will give you their corporate numbers in California, just in case: 650-543-4800 and 650-308-7300. Please be careful seeking out other Facebook contact info, as most of the phone numbers you might see in a Google search belong to scammers.
  • There are many companies on the internet that claim to be able to recover your stolen account, for a fee. Most of these are fraudulent operations. Beware! But one company called Hacked.com seems to be legitimate. I can’t vouch for them 100%, but they have a significant internet footprint and reasonable reviews about the recovery services that they provide.
  • If all else fails, or the recovery process is too money or time-consuming, make a new Facebook account.

Relevant for Protecting Other Social Media Accounts

This post focuses on Facebook, as that’s where I’m seeing the most harm done right now. But the overall threat and advice is relevant elsewhere. LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitch, Twitter… Accounts can be targeted and stolen on many other social media websites, using the same tactics I’ve described.

And the amount of support you get (almost none) will probably be the same, if you are a free or non-paying user. I will help where I can, but I have no special abilities to get Facebook to do the right thing. It’s up to you to stay alert and not get in a jackpot. Stay suspicious, my friends!

Celebrity Death Hoaxes

As you use social media, please pause before clicking on a celebrity death news item. I’m seeing a resurgence of celebrity death hoaxes on Facebook and other platforms right now, and they all lead to trouble.

I don’t blame people for clicking on these. Some of them look very believable. But anyone can post anything on Facebook, and Meta is very bad at policing itself and removing bad content. It’s up to us to think twice and avoid or report hazardous posts.

Celebrity death hoaxes are nothing new. The recent batch seems bent on tricking users into installing adware and malware on their computers. Here are some shots of the deceptive screens that appear for anyone unlucky enough to click these things:

Anyone falling victims to these sorts of downloads may soon suffer from lots of pop-ups, sales offers and web redirects, or worse. If you’ve caught some computer-crud from these hoaxes, give me a call and we can clean up your system fairly quickly.

And if you see any news on social media about a celebrity death, resist the urge to click. Instead, open a new tab and go to a trusted news website, and search for the celebrity’s name there. That should be a safer way to determine the truth of the matter.

The Facebook User Privacy Settlement

The Facebook User Privacy Settlement

Last year, I blogged about an upcoming Facebook settlement that might net some users a few dollars each. Well, there’s another newer Facebook settlement that you should know about. If you sign up for the Facebook User Privacy Settlement, you could get another chunk of money.

The latest Facebook settlement tracks back to the whole Cambridge Analytica scandal of 2018. While Meta expressly denies any liability or wrongdoing, a court has ruled against them, and Facebook will pay out $725M to avoid going to trial.

So, if you’ve used Facebook at any time in the last 16 years, in the USA, you are eligible to sign up for your piece of the settlement money. You can start at this website, and click the Submit Claim link to get started.

You will have to submit your name, email, mailing address and agree to a payout method (Zelle, Venmo, prepaid card, etc.). You’ll also need to supply your Facebook username. The survey tells you how to find this last info, but it is still confusing. I suggest that you go to Facebook on a computer, and click your name to the upper-left. Once your personal profile page loads, look at the address bar at the top of your browser. Your username is what comes after “https://www.facebook.com/”.

Dish Network Scam – “Receiver Updates”

dish receiver - it can typically update itself

Dish Network subscribers are starting to get unexpected calls about receiver updates. These are yet another scam, similar to the Xfinity Discount scam. Here’s what you need to know before you get one of these calls:

How The Scam Works

A scammer calls and identifies himself as a Dish Network representative. They’ll claim that the Dish receivers in the house urgently need a software update. “We can send a technician to your home to do this upgrade for $300, or I can walk you through it over the phone for only $199.”

At this point, the victim may object, and the scammer is ready: “But sir, it is just a one-time payment of $199.99. Without this, your TV will soon stop working!” When the victim argues further, the crook may offer to offset their fee by promising $25 discounts for several months on future Dish bills. If the victim still does not cooperate with payment, the scammer may become rude, and claim that he will just shut down the entire satellite service.

It should go without saying: If the crook gets any kind of payment over the phone, they will disappear with the money, and the victim gets… nothing. The “upgrade” was a dog-and-pony show and nothing more.

Why This Scam Is Convincing

This scam has a lot going for it, and has the potential to dupe a lot of people.

  • The scammer on the phone already knows your name, address and (obviously) your phone number.
  • Your CallerID may be spoofed to show “Dish Networks”.
  • They will instruct the victim to press buttons and navigate menus on the Dish receiver/TV with a convincing level of accuracy.
  • If the scammer learns your Dish account PIN, s/he may make changes to your account or add discounts to your billing, to “prove” they are a capable Dish rep.

Do’s & Don’ts

  • If you find yourself on this kind of call, hang up ASAP. The less you say to the scammer, the better.
  • Never antagonize or berate the caller. Remember: They have your address. These crooks can get hostile and the worst-case scenario could result in you getting swatted.
  • Don’t volunteer any extra info, especially your Dish account number or PIN. True Dish representatives never ask for this info over the phone.
  • To verify any Dish Networks communications, or to report a fraudulent call, call their main number at 1-800-333-DISH or chat them up on their website.

Update!

This scam is no longer just affecting Dish customers, but also subscribers of Xfinity, DirecTV and other big TV companies.

Sharing a URL

Everyone needs to be familiar with sharing a URL. Let’s go over the basics of this process, plus a extra tactic that makes sharing a URL even better.

What Is a URL?

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. But before you nod off on me, let’s just agree that you can also call it web address. If you are at a website and you want someone else to see what you’re looking at, they need that URL.

A lot of URLs are lengthy and they can contain so much gobbledy-gook, that you wouldn’t want to try dictating it over the phone to someone. Also, don’t try writing it down. One typo or miscommunication, and you’re done. A single out-of-place character in a web address is just as bad as misspelling someone’s email address. It just won’t work.

Copy & Paste

Copy & Paste is your best tool for sharing a URL. Go to the website that you want to share, and click on its web address at the top of your browser. The entire address should highlight, and that means you are ready to copy that URL. There are lots of ways to copy something:

  • Right-click the highlighted URL and then left-click Copy.
  • Press Control + C on your keyboard (Command + C for Mac users).
  • The Chrome browser lets you click the 3-dots button to find a Copy option.
  • The Firefox browser lets you click Edit -> Copy, if you can get to those menus.

You won’t see anything happen when you Copy the web address. But it is saved to a temporary, invisible clipboard, and you’ll see it again soon.

Next, you need to paste that URL somewhere, often into an email. Compose a new email or open a Word document. Once there, click to position your cursor in the body of the message/doc and trigger the Paste function. For this, you can:

  • Right-click and choose Paste
  • Press Control + V (Command + V for Mac users).
  • The Chrome browser lets you click the 3-dots button to find a Paste option.
  • The Firefox browser lets you click Edit -> Paste, if you can get to those menus.

You should see the full web address where you triggered the Paste function, and now you can send or share that with others. That URL will take people to the same page you copied it from, as long as it is a public website.

But Wait, There’s More!

There’s an extra feature to this process that can help with lengthy or complex websites. Let’s say you want to share a URL, but you know that you want the recipient to pay attention to one specific sentence or paragraph at that site. And the webpage is difficult to peruse, due to its immense content. You can share a URL that goes to that website AND highlights a specific wodge of text.

Note: This bonus tip works in Chrome and Edge, but may not be available in other browsers.

First, go to the website you want, and find the passage you want to draw attention to.

Click and drag your cursor over that specific text to highlight it. Then, right-click on that highlighted item (Mac users, use Control + Click).

On the contextual menu that appears, click “Copy link to highlight”.

After that, paste the web address and send it on to others. When they click it, they will arrive at the website you gave them, with the chosen text as the focus.

Here’s an example where I’ve highlighted one sentence in a very long website:

https://www.shentel.com/en/legal/code_of_business_conduct_and_ethics#:~:text=We%20seek%20competitive%20advantages%20through%20superior%20performance%2C%20not%20through%20unethical%20or%20illegal%20business%20practices.

Xfinity Scam – “50% Discount”

There’s a scam going around right now, promising a 50% discount on your Comcast/Xfinity bill. You might see this scam in your email, Facebook feed or even get a phone call! In any case, please know that it is not a legitimate offer.

It is too good to be true. Anyone duped into calling the offered number will reach a scammer, not an Xfinity rep. And the crook will press you to pay some advance money to qualify for the fictional discount. Once you send them any kind of payment, they’ll disappear.

Xfinity doesn’t offer any deep discounts like this, but you are always welcome to reach out to them to verify other offers you might hear about. You can report this scam to them when you receive it, if you like, but rest assured they already know all about it.

Update!

This scam is no longer just affecting Xfinity customers, but also subscribers of Dish, DirecTV and other big TV companies.

Dish Network’s 2023 Outage

If you’re having trouble with Dish Network lately, you’re not alone. On 2/23/23, Dish was hit with a ransomware attack, and they’ve been struggling to recover from it for over a week now. You may notice troubles or outages pertaining to:

  • Dish TV channels
  • the Dish.com website
  • Sling TV
  • Dish Anywhere app
  • Boost Mobile cellular service
  • using your Dish login credentials/paying your bill
  • reaching Dish customer service

Ransomware attacks can take significant time and effort to bounce back from. Last year’s attack on Mail2World laid low their email services for a solid week, but recovery timeframes can vary widely. Dish is being tight-lipped, so far, about the gory details, so I couldn’t begin to predict when their service levels will return to normal.

For now, what I can recommend is keeping your eye on their website and the Dish statement for upcoming details. Also, it is possible that the attackers have stolen customer data, so you may want to proactively change passwords on Dish-related accounts and pay attention to financial accounts you’ve shared or linked to Dish.

For more reading on this, please consider:

BleepingComputer

PCMag

TechRadar

Will I Have to Pay for Facebook?

Will I Have to Pay for Facebook?

I get this question frequently: Will I Have to Pay for Facebook? No. Facebook is going to remain free for all to use. Facebook’s Help Center clearly states this. If you read somewhere that Facebook is going to begin charging everyone for access, that’s just an old hoax that gets passed around every few years. Don’t spread that nonsense, please!

But Meta is preparing to offer an optional paid service for Facebook and Instagram accounts, called Meta Verified. This new offering is purely optional. Starting at $12/month, this service is intended for famous people and content creators, and will offer them a special badge of authenticity and access to human tech support.

Meta Verified is not meant for regular people like you and me. It’s meant for celebrities and people who are more often targeted by criminals and impostors. Most of my readers can forgo this expense, and keep using Facebook as they always have. But if you do think you would pay for this service, feel free to visit the Meta Verified site and use the links at the top to add yourself to their waitlist.

I do see people grumping about this change, specifically where Meta Verified users get access to real live help at Facebook. Regular users get almost no assistance, if they ever lose access/control of their accounts. It may seem unfair that, to get proper support, you have to pay up to the Almighty Zuck.

But the harsh counterpoint to that is: If you use Facebook for free, you are not a customer. You are the product. Facebook makes most of its money from their true customers (advertisers), selling access to their resource, a vast, semi-captive audience. While this point of view doesn’t make it feel any better, it may help explain why Meta does so little for us regular Facebook users.

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