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Shields Up!: The Facebook virus that isn’t

Sections: Columns, Computers, Features, Originals, Security, Web, Web 2.0 / Social Networking, Websites

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FacebookOver the long holiday weekend Facebook began having serious issues. News feeds stopped updating and displayed entries that were days old. Popular apps like Farkle started loading slowly or returning errors. Uploaded pics didn’t always display and the site as a whole started running slowly and returning random “endpoint” errors. Facebook was silent on the matter but their users weren’t. Amid the complaints a dire warning began popping up on statuses:

URGENT!!!! APPARENTLY THE FAN CHECK APPLICATION IS A BAD VIRUS THAT TAKES UPTO 48HOURS TO KICK IN!!!! EVEN IF U R TAGGED IN A PHOTO THE VIRUS CAN STILL GET TO U!! PLEASE INFORM ALL UR FRIENDS AND REMOVE/DELETE IT ASAP!!! COPY AND PASTE THIS TO UR STATUS TO WARN OTHERS!!!

Well there is good news and bad news. The good news is Fan Check isn’t a virus; it is just a very badly written and scammy app. The bad news is that “Fan Check Facebook virus” has become a hot trending topic on Google and hackers have taken advantage of it. If you search for that phrase on Google you’ll likely be presented with a lot of malicious links. The hackers are using black hat SEO techniques to poison search results.

What exactly is Fan Check? The developers say it’s simply an app that can tell you how much of a “fan” of you each of your Facebook friends are by analyzing how often they interact with your FB page via wall posts, comments, etc. It’s already been shut down once by Facebook over objections to its original name, Stalker Check.

It appears to be down again, returning a message that it’s being “updated.” Also of note, the link to contact the developers is broken. The app itself is not malcious nor does it appear to be responsible for the issues Facebook is having, but it’s not 100% harmless either.

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