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Automation Labs Facebook Privacy Warning Hoax

Outline
Messages circulating on Facebook claim that by entering 'automation labs' in the "Block People" search function of Facebook's privacy settings will reveal a list of people who have access to your Facebook account and should be blocked individually so that they cannot spy on you.



Brief Analysis
This warning is a hoax and should be ignored. Entering the search term 'automation labs' as described in the warning will indeed provide a list of Facebook users. However, these people DO NOT have access to your Facebook account and they are NOT spying on you. They are simply users who have names associated with the phrase 'automation labs'. There is no need for you to block these users.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.

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Last updated: 4th February 2010
First published: 4th February 2010
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Examples:
enter ‘automation labs’. A list of approx 20 people you dont even know will come up. Block each one individually. These people have access to your facebook account/profile and spy on what you do….This is true…I’ve done it.

please go to your settings then to privacy settings then to block list then write AUTOMATION BLOCK click block and theres a possibility that there are people who have managed to add themselves these people are part of a peadophile ring block them as they will pass any pics that ...

Passing this info on, I did it also, FB FRIENDS: IMPORTANT! Do this ASAP! Go to settings. Click on privacy settings. Click on block users. in the name box enter automation labs' (copy this so you can paste it individually), click on the block tab. A list of approx 20 people you dont even know will come up. Block each one individually. These people have access to your facebook account



Detailed Analysis
Warnings like the ones above have been circulating very rapidly around popular social networking website Facebook. The warnings claim that, by searching for the term "automation labs" in Facebook's "Block People" function, you can discover a list of people who have unauthorized access to your Facebook account and are spying on you. According to the warnings, once you "discover" these supposed spys, you should then block each user separately so that they no longer have access to your account.

Automation Labs Search
Entering the search term 'automation labs' as described in the warning will provide a list of Facebook users but these people do not have access to your Facebook account and they are not spying on you.
However, the claims in the warning message are untrue. If you go into Facebook's Block List dialog via your account's Privacy Settings and enter the term "automation labs" in the "Block Person" field, you will indeed be presented with a list of other Facebook users, most or all of which you may not know. However, there is nothing overtly sinister or untoward about these users. They do not have access to your account and they are not spying on you. Nor are they members of a pedophile ring or some other sinister group as claimed in some versions of the warning.

In fact, they are simply Facebook users that have the words "automation labs" associated with their names in some way. Because following the message's instructions does produce a list of people as described, many Facebook users have been fooled into believing that the warning is legitimate. A great many have therefore needlessly blocked all of the users in the list as instructed.

It seems that many Facebook users have not realized that the "Block People" function works the same as other website search functions in that it will produce a list of results which reference the words used in the search. In fact, virtually any common words or phrases entered in the "Block People" function will produce a list of results. For example, entering the word "fishing" in the search field will produce a list of Facebook users that have "fishing" associated with their user names. Searching on the phrase "organic gardeners" will likewise produce a list of names related to organic gardening. Of course, none of these fishing fans or organic gardeners are sinister schemers intent of spying on your Facebook activities. And neither are those listed when the phrase "automation labs" is entered.

Thus, these warnings have no validity and passing them on to other Facebook users will serve no good purpose.

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References:
ALERT: Automation Labs Does Not Have Access To Your Facebook Profile
The Automation Labs Facebook security scare

Last updated: 4th February 2010
First published: 4th February 2010
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer