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Use Facebook’s activity stream to make friends look like adulterous, job-changing murderers

September 23, 2011 2 Comments

It seems incredibly easy to trick people with Facebook's new timeline thingy into thinking their friends have some serious problems.

Facebook Guardian ctivity stream

Tricked him!

When you share a link on Facebook, you can edit any of the text - which means you can fool your friends into clicking on something that isn't what it seems. Which will make all their other friends think they have an STD or are getting divorced or something.

Here's how.

Alex Moss and I are connected on Facebook. And we are both using the Guardian's new Facebook app.

I shared this link on Facebook. Facebook does all the work when you share a link, so it turned my link into this.

The link I'm sharing

Here's how it looks by default ...

You can actually edit all this (just click the bits you want to change), so I removed the thumbnail and edited all the text, to look like this. I've always thought it weird Facebook lets you do this - as I could be sharing a link to anything and it seems wrong it lets you obfuscate this.

Edited appearance

I changed it to encourage Alex to click it

The result - when Alex clicked on the link, the timline feature updated instantly to say "Alex Moss read STDs in England: Breakdown by region, gender and ethnicity" (see the screenshot back at the top of this post).

Depending on what articles the Guardian has, I could trick Alex into clicking an edited link and make it look like he was reading up on depression, STDs, adoption, murder, divorce, applying for a new job, or joining Soulmates.

You can click to remove the update that you've read something.

But that just proves you've got something to hide.

This isn't a problem with the Guardian app per se - it's a problem with any app that might contain content that you wouldn't want friends to think you're consuming.

EG Spotify users - click here for an example of the sort of problem you could have.

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2 Comments »

  • James Carson says:

    Pretty amusing way of looking at it!

    I think the edit link function is pretty useful for publishers because often title OG tags aren't all that good (often pulling in - which will have branding in them)... it's pretty handy to customise it to what you want.

    However, I guess if you wish to humiliate your friends, then you could do this. You could also set up a fake profile and pretend to be insane if you wished.

    • Guess it depends on who you are "friends" with on Facebook - I seem to have ended up with several I don't know that well. Maybe some of them hate me ...

      And you don't have to do this in Facebook either. Just include in an email to someone you hate a link to a "dodgy" page (having checked their timeline to see what apps they've connected with).

      (PS How do you know this whole blog isn't fake and I am not insane?!)

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