Why You Will Never Convince Me That Facebook Gives a Damn About Fake Ads and Fake News

Facebook’s been making a lot of noises about how they care about fake news and how they don’t want it on their site and blah blah blah. I see enough fake clickbait ads on the site that I didn’t put much faith in its protestations. But what I saw this afternoon just puts the tin lid on it.

I came across this ad on Facebook today:

That is Michelle Obama. And of course there has been no news that she is getting divorced. Anybody who vets ads for Facebook should be knowledgeable enough about current events to be able to call shenanigans on the claim that the President of the United States is getting divorced.

I clicked it. And after a moment I got the following screen:

Oh look, my Windows installation has problems!

Except I was running ChromeOS at the time. This is obviously a tech support scam. (And even with ChromeOS it kept popping up windows for a few minutes before I hit it with a stick.)

So: incredibly fake story about Michelle Obama, that when you click on it leads to a tech support scam.

I have bought advertising on Facebook for literally years. In my experience, all ads are reviewed before they’re allowed on the site. Someone looked at this ad, said, “eh, no problem,” and let it through?

Until I stop seeing obviously fraudulent advertising like this on Facebook (and believe me, there are other examples), I’m going to treat any statements from Facebook on the matter as about as credible as the announcement that Barack Obama will be Donald Trump’s Secretary of State.

Though I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw an ad about that on Facebook.

What’s With This “Rent Out Your Facebook Account” Craigslist Ad?

I was going through my Google Alerts and found a very odd Craigslist ad:

Odd Craigslist Ad

The ad was from http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/dmg/5508562124.html (still active after approximately 16 hours, at this writing) and starts out:

Are you an Active FB user? Do you also have a home computer/internet connection? If so, then you most likely qualify to make $100.00 from my company for less than 20 minutes of your time.

There’s an URL in it connected to the domain rentfb.com . According to Whois.SC, it was registered in mid-February, and a search for “rentfb.com” on Google doesn’t return much aside from domain information sites…

Except Craigslist. Run a search for rentfb.com site:craigslist.org and you’ll see a whole lot of advertising going on:

RentFB Ads on Craigslist

(… and no, Google, I did not mean RENT)

Since the ad asks for zip code I suspect this is advertising-targeting or otherwise geography-based, but I don’t know enough about playing Facebook to have an idea.

Anybody seen this? Any thoughts?

UPDATE: I posted this story at 13:33 and Google had it indexed for the search term rentfb.com within five minutes. Yow.

Google indexing RentFb.com

Kentucky, Vermont, NFL, More: Wednesday Afternoon Buzz, June 3rd, 2015


Google has launched new tools to keep accounts safe. “My Account gives you quick access to the settings and tools that help you safeguard your data, protect your privacy, and decide what information is used to make Google services work better for you. It also provides more context to help you understand your options and make the right choices for you.”

A new online portal highlights research from Kentucky – “The University of Kentucky Libraries has collaborated with several counterparts and Berkeley Electronic Press to create Kentucky Research Commons, an online portal that highlights and provides access to scholarly works produced at different institutions in the Commonwealth.”


From Hongkiat: 9 Google Photos Features You Need to Know.


Yahoo and the NFL are teaming up for the first global live stream of an NFL game. “Sports fans, mark your calendars for October 25, 2015. We’re teaming up with the NFL to bring you the International Series Game, live streamed from London, so you can watch the Buffalo Bills take on the Jacksonville Jaguars this fall.”

The Supreme Court has thrown out the conviction of a man who was convicted of making threats after posting rap lyrics to Facebook. “Anthony Elonis was convicted in 2011 on four out of five counts for violating a federal law that prohibits making illegal threats through communication channels like wire and radio. In Elonis’s case, he quoted violent rap lyrics on Facebook after his wife left him the year prior.”

The Governor of Vermont just asked Mark Zuckerberg if he wants some. “I was very concerned to read about Facebook’s unnecessary bullying of a Vermont startup called Designbook. The Vermonters behind this company are the type of people that make me proud to be this state’s Governor….The last thing these Vermonters deserve is for a giant corporation to threaten them unnecessarily. We don’t stand for that type of injustice in Vermont.”

Facebook is getting into PGP encryption. “Users who want to take advantage of the new security standards can tell Facebook their public key, and the site will then ensure that any sensitive emails that it sends out, such as password resets or other notifications, will be encrypted.”


Interesting paper from Süleyman Nihat ŞAD: Facebook as a Peer Assessment Tool: Does It Work for Visual Art Education. “According to the findings, most of the students had positive opinions regarding peer observation and comments via Facebook. In general participants stated that such peer assessment is beneficial, since it helps them notice their deficiencies, look at their work from a different perspective and improve their artistic skills; thanks to positive feedback their motivation and self-confidence is boosted. Participants also believed that peer-assessment on Facebook has the advantage of ubiquity, which means, without any limitation of time or space, they enjoy feedback from students from upper grades or from the art departments of other national or international universities.” Very brief but interesting, with a good set of references. I would love to see a study combining Facebook with a more art-oriented site, like DeviantArt.

Why and when do students refer to the Internet for answers? “In one study, University of Louisville psychologists Nicholaus S. Noles and Judith H. Danovitch found that 4- and 5-year-olds are more likely to turn to adults for the answer to a question than a computer, while adults are more likely to seek the answer electronically. Interestingly, 8-year-olds turn to computers more than younger children, but less than adults. However, 5- and 8-year-olds are more likely to trust an answer from a computer if it conflicts with a person’s response.” Good afternoon, Facebook…

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Google, Facebook, Yelp, More: Tuesday Afternoon Buzz, May 12th, 2015


Make Google Maps Legotastic with Brick Street View. “There are two ways to explore it. You can move around a bird’s-eye-view map to see blocks of bumpy baseplates, shiny trees, and national landmarks like the Empire State Building and Eiffel Tower. Or you can drag and drop your denim-clad guide to obtain street-level views, which introduce various Lego artifacts like police cars, dead-eyed figurines, and fried egg-looking flowers.”


Oh, I love the idea behind Peruse: a natural language search for your cloud documents. “Peruse’s natural language file search works for business documents of any file type, albeit the NLP tech only currently works for the English language. The service is also initially limited to documents stored in either Box or Dropbox cloud storage repositories — but it intends to expand to integrate with more such services.”

Maybe not so useful: Play with old versions of Windows in your browser. I’m afraid I’ll have flashbacks of trying to get Trumpet Winsock to work.


Google Drive’s OCR capabilities have been expanded. “Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology aims to turn pictures of text into computer text that can be indexed, searched, and edited. For some time, Google Drive has provided OCR capabilities. Recently, we expanded this state-of-the-art technology to support all of the world’s major languages – that’s over 200 languages in more than 25 writing systems.”

More new stuff from FamilySearch. “Notable collection updates include 2,983,594 indexed records from the Croatia, Church Books, 1516–1994 collection; 57,446 indexed records and 1,785,969 images from the Jamaica, Civil Registration, 1880–1999 collection; and 1,087,758 indexed records from the Costa Rica Civil Registration, 1860–1975 collection.”

Google has launched a Chrome extension to gather feedback about its browser. “The new Chrome User Experience Surveys extension will occasionally pop up brief surveys about the user’s experience when something unusual happens in the browser. That could be a notification or a malware warning, for example, and Google says it will take the user feedback to improve Chrome.”


Pllbbt. Google is going to stop showing emojis in its search results.

Facebook beating you over the head with birthday notifications? That was a bug.

This is what happens when you ‘bot everything: Google Answers linking to a dead RadioShack page.

Is Yelp seeking a buyer? “While Internet users have increasingly searched for restaurants and points of interest in their cities and neighborhoods, Yelp and others have had difficulty turning the small businesses that populate the local economy into paying advertisers, said Sameet Sinha, an analyst at investment bank B. Riley & Co. in San Francisco.” I find this funny because the company for which I work has been advertising on Yelp for over a year. We want to advertise in a couple of other markets but we’re repeatedly told “There’s not enough inventory available.” I can’t even buy what they have; it’s a package or nothing. Good afternoon, Internet…

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Nebraska, PACER, Twitter, More: Thursday Afternoon Buzz, April 23rd, 2015


GeekWire has a story on a new service for journalists called Sqoop. Sounds tasty. “Bill Hankes and David Kellum are the co-founders of Sqoop, a new online tool that alerts journalists when public documents become available online, based on the companies and topics they choose to follow. After starting with patent filings and SEC documents, Sqoop is expanding its beta this week to include alerts on federal court records.” It’s in what looks like closed beta.

The state of Nebraska now has an online database of farmers markets. (This is a government press release and it’s in PDF, ugh, why do they do that?) “… the database is easily navigated and will allow consumers to quickly locate farmers’ markets in their area, as well as individual farmers. The database includes details such as vendor names, location, contact information, hours of operation and produce options. Consumers can also find vendors who participate in one of NDA’s fresh produce coupon programs for low income individuals.”


Twitter has new anti-abuse tools. One of the things has done is made clearer when it will act against users. Also, “In addition, Twitter will begin freezing some abusers’ accounts for set amounts of time, allowing those affected to see the remaining duration via its app. Abusers may also be required to verify their phone number and delete all their previous offending tweets in order to get their account unlocked.”

WordPress has released WordPress 4.1.2, which is a security release so please update. “WordPress versions 4.1.1 and earlier are affected by a critical cross-site scripting vulnerability, which could enable anonymous users to compromise a site.”

Google and Yahoo ad products are going to all-encryption.


May 1 has been named the national day of PACER protest. “The PACER protest arises out of increasing frustration with the availability of information from the federal courts. Both the U.S. Constitution and federal law require that courts operate publicly, making trials and records of court cases open to the public. While limitations occasionally may be imposed to close court sessions and seal records related to particularly sensitive matters—such as those involving children, abuse victims, domestic situations, and mental health issues—most of the documents filed in court proceedings, as well as other court information, have been considered public records.”

I always wondered how government accounts got verified on Facebook and Twitter. Georgia.gov has a walkthrough.

the National Library of Ireland has begun archiving Web sites related to the upcoming marriage equality referendum. “And now, the process of identifying and selecting websites to be included in the NLI’s Marriage Equality Referendum 2015 collection has gotten underway with the help of a team of researchers. According to the NLI, the collection will include sites documenting both sides of the debate; official sites like that of the Referendum Commission, commentary sites and political party websites.”

Wanna read an extensive, detailed, and depressing story about social media fraud? Here ya go.


Research: Snapchat elicits more jealousy than Facebook. “This article offers a preliminary comparison of Snapchat and Facebook use and psychological effects on romantic jealousy. General motives for using Snapchat and Facebook are examined, as well as the nature of the content that Snapchat users most frequently share. Further, because of the differences in privacy and persistence of information, potential psychological effects in the domain of romantic jealousy are also examined, which has been widely studied on Facebook in the last few years.”

I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!