Vietnam scammers solicit Facebook ‘likes’ to revive the dead

Ngoc Huynh

When Mark Zuckerberg created the “like button” for his social network in 2009, he could never have imagined that Facebook’s most distinctive feature would someday be expected to bring the dead back to life.

Strange as it sounds, Facebook pages created to collect a huge number of “likes” to “regain life” for deceased public figures are not uncommon among Vietnamese users of the world’s largest social network.

The latest of this kind is the “Like to bring Duy Nhan back from death” page, which had garnered more than 3,400 “likes” at the time of writing.

Vietnamese model Duy Nhan died at 28 on May 10 after six months of battling blood cancer, and other similar Facebook pages emerged almost immediately after his death was announced the same day.

Even a billion “likes” could never help Nhan come back to life, and the creation of such pages are obviously hoaxes and scams.

Even though these names sound nonsense, thousands of local Facebookers still hit the “like” button, resulting in dozens of thousands of likers, or followers, on these scam Facebook pages.

Understandably, those who “liked” these pages could be loyal fans who would do anything in the hope of seeing their idols again.
But there are also people who “liked” only to be able to leave comments condemning the page creators because they knew the real purposes behind such pages.

Heartless like-farming

The trick is that the creators will change the names of these Facebook pages after they have piled up hundreds of thousands of likes and shares to promote several products to get big commissions.

They may also sell the pages to others who need a huge number of followers readily available for their businesses or any kind of activity.

There is in fact a term for this: “like-farming.”

According to Hoax Slayer, a website that debunks Internet hoaxes and scams, “like-farming” is a tactic in which Facebook pages are designed to “do nothing more than artificially increase their popularity by tricking users into “liking” them.”

The goal of these unscrupulous like-farmers is to increase the value of pages so that they can be sold on the black market to other scammers and/or used to market dubious products and services and distribute further scams.

“The more likes a page has, the more resale and marketing value it commands,” the website said.

There are many other like-farming scams, which are widespread not only in Vietnam but also around the world. This is, however, not a surprise given Facebook’s nearly 1.4 billion active users worldwide, according to statistics it released earlier this year.

Like-farming scams tend to solicit others to like, share or comment under heartfelt stories or painful photos, with both the photos and stories most of the time being untrue.

The scammers tell Facebook users that a “like” means you care about the people/stories, whereas a “comment” represents a prayer.

Many Vietnamese Facebook users are now aware of the scams, but the number of those who are not is relatively big, as evidenced by such Facebook pages as the one intended to “save” Duy Nhat from death.

Ngo Tran Vu, director of the Nam Truong Son Co, an Internet security firm, has reiterated the warning in a recent talk with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

“The like-farmers are so heartless that they will take advantage of any painful stories or deceased people to serve their scams,” he said.

“They carefully watch the news to create new pages to make use of the sympathy and enthusiasm of people.”

Vu said the scammers can sell the Facebook pages (with a number of likes) to others to make profits, or dupe Facebook users into clicking on links to malicious websites.

“Users will have their computers infected by viruses or malicious software if they visit these harmful websites, and their personal information can also be stolen,” he added.

“You may help the scammers simply by “liking” a Facebook page.”

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