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Death Age Facebook 'Virus' Warning

Outline
Message circulating rapidly on Facebook warns of a Facebook virus called "Death Age" that will post messages to all areas of Facebook from accounts that have been infected.

Skull on fire

© Depositphotos.com/ dvargg



Brief Analysis
The warning is misleading and inaccurate. It alludes to a spammy Facebook application, not a virus. The app will indeed send out messages in the names of users. However, before it sends out these messages, users first have to purposely install it by allowing it permission to access their accounts.  It will not "infect" accounts just because users click a link. And, users can remove the app via their Facebook privacy settings.

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Example

ATTENTION EVERYONE WHO CAN SEE THIS PLEASE READ THERES A FACEBOOK VIRUS CALLES DEATH AGE A FIREY SKULL WITH THE AGE YOU SUPPOSEDLY LIVE UNTIL WITH ONE COMMENT TO A LINK DO NOT FOLLOW IT!!! IT POSTS TO EVERYTHING YOU BELONG TO I SWEAR TO EVERYTHING THATS TRUTH COPY, PASTE AND SHARE THIS POST HURRY IVE ALREADY BEEN INFECTED AND ITS POSTING ME EVERYWHERE AND ITS NOT ME


Detailed Analysis


This rather panicky, ALL CAPS message is currently circulating widely on Facebook. The message claims that there is a Facebook virus called "Death Age", that can infect your Facebook account and send spam messages to "everything you belong to" on Facebook. The message claims that the virus features a fiery skull icon and will supposedly tell you the age on which you will die.  The message implies that just clicking a link that comes with the Death Age post will infect your account with this "virus".

However, the message is misleading and inaccurate. The threat that the message rather poorly attempts to describe is in fact a spammy Facebook application, not a virus.  If a user installs this app, it will certainly post out various messages advertising itself on his or her behalf.

But, here's the thing. The user has to explicitly give permission for the app to access areas of his or her Facebook account. And, it plainly warns on the permissions page that the app "may post on your behalf, including status updates, photos and more".  In other words, the app will only post annoying messages to your friends IF you give it permission to do so. It will not "infect" your account just because you clicked a link in one of its messages. After you clicked the link, you would then have to proceed to install the application before it posted anything at all on your behalf.

Moreover, there are several "death age" related apps that will post silly messages on your behalf if you install them. In fact, there are hundreds of dubious Facebook apps that will post unwanted messages on your behalf if you give them permission to do so.

Unwanted messages posted from such apps become a problem, not because the apps are viruses or malware but simply because so many users blindly install them without taking the time to work out what the apps will actually do once installed.

If you do install one of these apps, you can just as quickly uninstall it by following the instructions on Facebook's help page on the topic.

Certainly, it may help to warn your friends about how these spammy apps operate and explain how to remove them if necessary. But, reposting overblown and misleading "virus warnings" like the example above is not an effective way of helping your friends stay safe online.

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Last updated: October 14, 2013
First published: October 14, 2013
By Brett M. Christensen
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References
How do I remove a game or app that I've downloaded?