Social Media Manipulation on Facebook
You’re being manipulated online.
I am too.
We all are.
As technology advances, it is increasingly difficult to avoid online hackers and disinformation. Social media manipulation is running rampant and it is predicted to only get worse with the 2020 Presidential Election.
Protect Yourself by Knowing Who Runs The Business Pages You Like
You would be surprised to learn that content you are sharing may be owned from someone outside of the United States. For this reason, Facebook created “Page Transparency” for every Facebook Business Page (see images and examples below).
You can access this information on your computer or on the Facebook App. Additionally, you can also see current and past ads that are run by each Facebook Business Page.
An Example of Facebook Page Transparency
The page below “God bless Donald Trump and God bless America” appears to be about the President. Take a look at the Page Transparency. Russia and Ukraine are the countries this page is being managed from.
Below is a post that was on this Page. A friend of mine shared this Post, not knowing it was designed to manipulate and deceive.
When she shared this content, she had no idea that she put her online safety at risk.
Here’s how and why:
- Political posts from outside the United States are designed to go “viral”, by collecting the friends lists of those who share the content.
- Seemingly innocuous posts, written to elicit your emotions, are effective in getting the most shares.
- Oftentimes, the post information is not based on truth.
- Because the post is in your feed, you are likely to NOT pay attention to the accuracy of the post. By not paying attention to the source, the emotion you feel causes you to share and/or comment on the post.
Cute Animal and Sick Children Posts Elicit Emotions and Receive Shares
Another common online emotional social media manipulation trick is to use “I bet I won’t get one share”. Showing pictures of puppies, sick children, lost relatives, etc. is great click bait.
Here’s an example:
In this Facebook Post, it manipulates you in the status update for a “Like” AND in the text written on the picture that asks you to “Share”.
When I looked up the Page via Facebook, it appears that the organization is from Chicago. Would it surprise you that this isn’t accurate?
Do you see the country Kosovo on the Page Transparency? It is managed in this country.
Check Out the Ads Run by this Home Improvement Tips Page
This Home Improvement Page that has almost 5 MILLION followers! That’s a goldmine of followers for a foreign entity that may want to influence women.
Similar to the other Pages, this one looks innocent enough and the content seems to relate BUT, let’s take a look at the Page Transparency. The country locations that manage the page are Georgia, Canada and Pakistan. Note that this is the country of Georgia (in the Caucasus region of Eurasia), not the U.S. southern state of Georgia!
Noe look below at the ads running for this Page. All of them are political or polarizing in nature. Why would a “Housemaking” Facebook Page run ads that have nothing to do with your home?!?!
One More Social Media Manipulation Post Example: Missing Children Posts
Who wouldn’t want to help find missing children and adults?
Sharing this type of post MAY and DOES help.
By sharing a post that is FALSE (like the one below) it opens you and your friends to being hacked or targeted AND you also help perpetuate misinformation.
BEFORE you share a missing child or person picture, be sure you are sharing accurate information.
- Go to the original post and note the date. Is the information current?
- Verify the source. See the white arrow above? Lifestylefans.info is NOT a local website. Look for something from a LOCAL NEWS SOURCE.
- Check to see if the information is current. Google is your friend! Again, BEFORE sharing, verify whether or not the person has been found yet!
Note “Hoax Alert” below the post. Facebook is attempting to alert to false news. Be vigilant! Not every false story will be caught in this way.
Tips for Online Safety
BEFORE Liking or Following a Page on Facebook:
- Read the profile
- Check the Page Transparency
- Verify the Page or Account manager
- Review the Ads run by the page
DO NOT automatically follow or accept friend requests from people you do not know!
- Is their account new?
- How often do they post?
- Do you have a lot of mutual friends?
- Is this a cloned account and you are already friends on the real profile?
- On Instagram, is their profile “Private”?
DO NOT share posts with sappy calls to action (puppies, sick children, etc.)
- If it has a call to action that makes you feel sorry for the animal, person, situation etc., don’t share it!
DO NOT “Copy and Paste” posts. If those words are in the post, don’t do it!
BEWARE of Missing Person Posts. Follow the tips above to verify the accuracy of the information. If in doubt, go to Google and verify the information by Googling the person’s name.
- If something causes an emotional reaction, CHECK YOUR RESOURCE!
If you found this article helpful social media manipulation and want more information about Social Media Safety, feel free to contact me.