If you use Facebook, you’ve likely come across promotional posts for competitions where liking or sharing the post gives you a chance of winning a new vehicle!   Worth a shot isn’t it?

Or how about a post of a kitten with only three legs and the comment “I bet I won’t get a single share”?   Heartbreaking – and there’s no harm in sharing surely?

Perhaps a photo of a war veteran begging in the street with a caption asking you to share the post to show your support?

Now what if I told you that all these posts have something in common?   They’re all scams – directly targeting you and using your emotions to fool you into interacting with them!

But what could someone possibly have to gain by you sharing a post of a kitten?   Let me introduce you to “Like Farming”!

Like Farming is a relatively new technique used by scammers to trigger an emotional response in order to get as many likes and shares as they can.   Check out some of the examples above and you’ll see thousands of likes and shares for these posts.

The aim for the scammers is to build up these likes and shares to generate interest and authority for the post.   After all, if thousands of others have shared the post then it must be important?

What you don’t realise is that once they hit their target, that innocent kitten post will be edited to be something completely different.   Maybe a product that the scammer is trying to sell that would otherwise be ignored on Facebook?   Perhaps they’ll sell the post to someone who wants to instantly promote something unethical.  They’ll edit the post with the message that they want to spread, and will instantly start off with thousands of likes and shares of the post!

Cunning eh? Welcome to the world of Like Farming.

So, what are the tell-tale signs to watch out for regarding these types of posts.  Well first of all, don’t let your emotions get the better of you.

Really – why would someone post a picture of a sick kitten, just to ask you to like/share it?   It’d be different if it was an animal shelter who were looking for donations or support?   But don’t be fooled here either as the scammers might pretend to be someone else.   If you’re not sure – click on whoever posted the picture.   Chances are – if it’s a scammer, the account will have been set up recently and will only have a couple of posts.   Take the example above of the sick kitten posted by an animal shelter.   You click on the animal shelter and there are no further details of who they are, and they’ve only posted the one picture after having joined Facebook around a week ago.   If the alarm bells aren’t ringing for you, I’d suggest closing your Facebook account and never looking back!

When you see a competition for a new truck remember that if “something seems too good to be true, it probably is”!   Click on the dealership advertising the competition and use what you’ve learnt above to figure out if the post is real or not.

Start using the above tips and you’ll begin to realise just how many scams there are out there using your emotion against you!