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'Facebook crimes soaring, becoming more sophisticated,' warn experts

August 12, 2011 - Washington

Facebook crimes that include scams, online bullying, phishing and many other forms of illegal activities are soaring, and are getting more sophisticated, cyber experts have warned.

Presently, rarer cybercrimes on Facebook involve the installation of malicious software, or 'malware,' on computers so credit card information can be easily stolen.

Experts claim that the rise of these Facebook crimes is not limited to just scams and phishing activities. There's also sexual predation and even robberies that occur after users post GPS location about their whereabouts to inform others they are out of town.

Experts are weighing in on why these crimes are happening at such a rapid rate.

"These types of crimes are designed to use your own actions or weaknesses against you," Fox News quoted Lynette Owens, director of a global digital security firm based in Tokyo, as saying.

"As humans, and for good reason, we put trust in others more often than not because most people at most times are worthy of that trust. The online world is no different than the offline world in that sense," Owens said.

According to Paul Zak, a professor at Claremont College, scammers prey on Facebook because they don't know their victims, the report said.

"It's easier to hurt someone when you're not seeing them in person," Zak said.

"Neuroscience research shows that moral violations are less likely when interactions are personal because people empathize with those they meet in person. In the online world, people are just a number," he added.

According to Ioana Jelea, communication specialist at BitDefender, the social scam industry is thriving overall because scam creators are taking legitimate Facebook functionalities and persuading people to click on links.

Jelea also argued that it's not just users' trust in the platform that puts them at risk, it's their insufficient familiarity with the Facebook's security and privacy settings, as well as the threats inherent to online info sharing.


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