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False Warnings - 'Cleaning out Friends List' Questions on Facebook Contain Viruses or are Posted by Hackers

Outline
Circulating messages warn uses that questions about cleaning out friends list appearing on Facebook contain viruses or are posted by hackers.



Brief Analysis
The "cleaning out friends" list messages do not contain viruses, nor are they posted by hackers. They are simply messages posted via Facebook's "Questions" application that have "gone viral". The questions are harmless, albeit rather annoying.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.

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Last updated: 25th October 2011
First published: 25th October 2011
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Examples
watch out for this message its a VIRUS!!

GOING TO BE OFF FOR A FEW DAYS, SOMEONE REPORTED ME AS ABUSIVE, SO I NEED TO KNOW WHO STILL WANTS TO BE MY FRIEND AND NEIGHBOR. PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT. SO I KNOW NOT TO DELETE YOU FROM MY FRIENDS LIST I WILL BE BACK LATER TO CHECK AND TAKE NOTE OF WHO COMMENTS THANKS TO ALL MY DEAR FRIENDS SORRY BUT THIS IS NECESSARY

there is a virus in one of my updates about cleaning up my friends list do not open this

THIS A VIRUS!!!!! DONT OPEN !!!!!!!!!!!!!
"I am cleaning up my Facebook friend list. Please let me know if you wish to remain active by answering YES. Any other answer (or lack of) will result in removal."

What is this message i keep seeing about cleaning up my Facebook friends? I was told that it was hacker!!!! IS this true?




Detailed Analysis
Cleaning out friends list question
A large number of messages are currently appearing on Facebook that claim that users are cleaning out their friends lists. As the screenshot to the right reveals, these questions typically ask if recipients wish to remain on the user's list.

At the same time, various other messages are also circulating that warn users about supposed security risks pertaining to these "cleaning out friends list" questions. Some claim that the messages are viruses that, if clicked, will infect the participant's computer. Others claim that answering the question will give hackers access to the user's computer. However, all such warnings are false and should not be taken seriously.

The messages are in fact nothing more than queries posted via Facebook's Questions app that have inadvertently circulated far afield of the original poster's circle of online friends. These Questions have "gone viral" because they include an "Ask Friends" button. Users who click "Ask Friends" can share the same question with all of the people on their own Friends list. And, if someone votes in one of the polls, a message about the vote is posted on their news feed, often leading the person's friends to believe that he or she was the one who posed the question in the first place. Many of the questions have therefore spread far and wide, sowing confusion and concern as they travel and sometimes collecting hundreds of thousands - or even millions - of votes along the way. Since it is not always clear where the questions originated from and why they have suddenly appeared, some users have wrongly assumed that the messages are malicious. Such false assumptions have given rise to many false and misleading warnings about the questions.

In truth, these questions are completely harmless, albeit rather annoying. Unfortunately, reposting false warnings about such questions has served only to spread further confusion and concern as well as clutter Facebook with even more pointless nonsense. If you receive one of these bogus warnings, please do not repost it. And let the sender know that the claims in the warnings are incorrect.

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References
Facebook Questions
Random Facebook User's Question Gets Four Million Votes




Last updated: 25th October 2011
First published: 25th October 2011
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer