Outline Message circulating rapidly on Facebook warns that some applications are sending out pornographic messages in your name. The message warns that you should not open any message claiming that someone answered a question about you because it is a virus.
It is certainly true that some rogue Facebook applications have automatically posted spam or scam messages to Facebook profiles. There have also been a large number of Facebook applications that claim a user has asked or answered a question about you. Some, but by no means all, of these "question" apps may have been malicious. However, this message is so vague that it it has no real merit as a warning and reposting it is pointless. In fact, the message is just a mutated version of a similar and equally spurious "warning" that began circulating in November 2010.
HEADS UP FB friends, Some applications are sending porno messages under your name. If you don't want to get in trouble with your friends, copy paste this message! If you receive a nasty message from ME, I'm NOT the one who sent it. Most come from a video clip or a post saying xx...ANSWERED A QUESTION about you. DON'T OPEN IT! Its a virus! Re-post this to your status to let others know
This message, which is currently circulating at breakneck speed around Facebook, warns users to beware of Facebook applications that are able to send out pornographic messages in their names. It suggests that users share the warning with others so that they will not "get into trouble" with Facebook contacts who may receive the "porno messages". The warning further claims that users should not open any messages that say another user has answered a question about them because these messages contain a virus.
It is certainly true that there have been many rogue Facebook applications that, once installed, automatically send out spam, scam or malware messages. These messages often appear to originate from the accounts of the users who installed the rogue applications. Spammers, survey scammers and criminals intent on distributing malware regularly use rogue Facebook applications as a means of achieving their aims. Thus, Facebook users should always be cautious when installing applications. And, as with email and other social media users, Facebookers should be careful when following unknown links in messages, even if they appear to come from people they know.
However, this message is simply too vague and misleading to have any real merit as a warning and reposting will not help other users in any way. The warning gives no concrete information about which rogue applications are supposedly responsible for the "porno" messages. Moreover, while there have been a number of Facebook applications that, when installed, post messages on your wall claiming that a friend has answered a question about you, by no means all are malicious and they are certainly not all "a virus" as claimed in the warning. In fact, most of these "question" applications are completely harmless, if admittedly rather irritating and annoying to many users. Of course, it is possible that, like a significant percentage of the thousands of applications available on Facebook, some are rogues that lead to survey scam websites or even try to entice users to download malware. But, given that this warning gives no information whatsoever that allows users to identify which of the hundreds of quiz or question apps they should watch out for, it is virtually worthless as a warning.
Furthermore, this warning is quite clearly a mutated version of an earlier and equally spurious warning that began circulating back in November, 2010. As the following example shows, the two warnings are obviously cut from the same cloth:
FACEBOOK FRIENDS!!! SOME APPS ARE SENDING NOT VERY NICE MESSAGES USING YOUR NAME!!! IF YOU DON'T WANT TO GET INTO TROUBLE WITH YOUR FRIENDS, COPY PASTE AND SHARE THE POST!! IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED ANY FROM ME, BE ASSURED I DIDN'T SEND IT
This strong similarity to an earlier "warning" further erodes the current version's value as a serious warning. It seems obvious that someone has simply used the earlier version as a template, made a few modifications and additions, and reposted it as a "new" warning.
To have any worth, computer security warnings need to be accurate, up-to-date, contain detailed information about the perceived threat and contain verifiable references. Reposting vague, ill-conceived and garbled security warnings like the one above will not do anything whatsoever to help keep your Facebook friends secure. In fact such spurious alerts achieve nothing other than to cause confusion among recipients and clutter our social networks with even more utterly pointless nonsense.