Local Facebook groups are an invaluable resource to bring communities together to share information and help each other. However, these groups have been increasingly filled with spammy posts designed to scare users and share false information. A fact-checking charity called Full Fact found over 1,200 fraudulent posts in local Facebook groups around the world, a number that the group says is likely just a small fraction of the real problem.
According to the group’s report, many of these fake posts are focused on missing pets or children, serial killers, or armed men roaming the streets. Many of these false claims then link out to sites that earn bad actors an affiliate fee when unsuspecting users click through. To make matters worse, this kind of spam is burying posts from real users who are seeking help.
“The hoaxers have clearly identified the massive reach these posts can have and local Facebook groups across the world are now becoming overwhelmed with false information,” Full Fact editor Steve Nowottny said. “Genuine warnings about dangers and genuine posts from people desperately appealing for help, such as those looking for missing loved ones or missing pets, are now at a much higher risk of being ignored.”
Thankfully these sensational claims are easy to recognize and avoid once you know what you’re looking for. However, Facebook needs to do a better job preventing this much spam from infiltrating these groups in the first place.
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