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Dear Facebook

May 21st, 2013  · stk

NewsBrief: [Dear Mark Zuckerberg] Why Facebook fails when it comes to malware or malicious software detection. Warning users not to download and run software from untrusted sources is good. Forcing users to download and run software from Facebook, in order to log-in again, is bad.

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Open Letter to Facebook

Dear Mark Zuckerberg - I thought I would write to you Mark, since you are both the creator of Facebook and its public face (even though I know that it has grown and there's no way you can put your personal stamp on everything). I am writing to let you know of an ironic problem with your service, which I have come to utilize on a nearly daily basis (congrats on making something so relevant and useful).

What the system needs to know is that using a URL-shortening service (which takes long, ugly links and make them appear shorter) does not mean that I have a virus on my personal computer. Seriously. I am a web developer. I know a thing or two about malware, viruses and SPAM. A tad more than your Facebook service does ... like ... a LOT more.

So, when I reply to someone with two sentences and add a shortened link (e.g., http://fe.gd/wIk) it is not malware or SPAM, nor does it indicate that my personal computer is infected with a virus.

I have tried to tell you this many times before. When the system said: "Warning: The link you are trying to use has been blocked because it looks like malware, SPAM or may contain a virus. If you think this message is in error, please contact us" (paraphrased). Countless times I explained that a shortened URL is not SPAM, malware or imply a local virus infection. Obviously, the time I spent doing this was wasted.

It used to be that when Facebook "detected" SPAM or malicious content, it would degrade gracefully, suggesting that I check my computer for virus, but offer an opportunity to reclaim my account. No longer is this the case. This morning when it (again erroneously) assumed that a shortened URL was malicious content or a computer virus, I was ungraciously logged off of Facebook and led down a garden path. When I logged in, I see the following message:

For security reasons your account is temporarily locked

Unfortunately, your computer may be infected with a virus.
Don't worry. We'll help you find and remove any infected files right away.

 

Hitting the "Continue" button yields an ironic message:

How you might have been infected

Often, users who are infected with malware are tricked into running a malicious program, which infects their machine with malware. Remember, you should never run programs from sources that you don't trust.

 

The irony, of course, is what happens on the very next screen. Your system - after warning users never to run programs from sources they don't trust - ironically says I have a virus and (as an the only option) must download and run some software, in order to proceed! LMFAO!

I mean, we all TRUST Facebook, right? (How many SPAM "Farmville" notifications have I received, applications that post my personal information to "friends" or other untrustworthy behavior? ... TOO MANY!) But now, I'm supposed to believe Facebook when it says I have a virus and that I should download and run software that it CLAIMS is from McAfee? What a ridiculous proposition! (Especially given the message on the previous page!) Asking visitors to download and run software that is claimed will "fix" your personal computer is the oldest SCAM on the internet (next to cheap medications and promises of making millions while working at home)! LOL

Mark, where's this option: "The Facebook system screwed up, I swear I don't have a virus on my local computer and can I PLEASE just log into the account I was happily in 5 minutes ago?"? Pity it no longer exists and instead you force users down some shady garden path.

No, not pity ... more like PITA

I mean, I'm glad you partnered up with McAfee and everything, but (a) IF I thought I had a virus (which I do not), I'd pick TrendMicro or BitDefender as my scanning solution, not McAfee and (b) I don't have a virus and it is your bloody Facebook system that's the hang up here ... so don't shove software at users they don't want it (or trust it), sending them down a work-flow path that is both time-consuming and (in the case of shortened URLs) completely unnecessary. Your user's time is more valuable than you give it credit.

On the other hand, I waste too much time on Facebook anyway. Maybe I should thank you for locking me out of Facebook for no reason! I need to refocus energy on my blog anyway! :p

Sincerely, A User who got shortened out of Facebook

PS - Though I tried renaming my personal computer, clearing my cache (and my cookies) ... I could not log into Facebook. (Hmmm, I should try a different browser - Edit: Switching browsers worked! Must be a browser-dependent virus then, eh Mark? LOL). Maybe I'll just wait and see how long it takes until Facebook assumes my PC is "magically cured". LOL.

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Updated: 21-May-2013
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