"Error Check System" spreads through Facebook

Thanks for helping me deal with this glitch!

That was Selena Fox’s comment to me this morning after I warned her that she had gotten lured into a new phenomenon: a genuinely malicious Facebook application. I had already gotten several notifications that my friends “experienced errors” while viewing my profile, and inviting me to view them with something called “Error Check System.”

I clicked the link and found an official-looking page that wasn’t like most other application pages on Facebook . . . no real information about the app itself. Suspicious, I clicked the “about” link at the bottom of the page – this is added by Facebook, so app developers can’t get rid of it. First thing I saw was the phrase, “This application was not developed by Facebook.” Bingo. Praise Caffeina for making me sharp enough to spot a scam!

A Google search showed me a great warning page about this Facebook malware, complete with screen shots, that confirmed all of my suspicions. But then I got another notification about errors, this time from Selena.

Now I posted the above link to my profile and sent it to my friends that had already installed this app, but I know that Selena Fox is a special case. She has hundreds of friends and a dial-up connection, so she can’t always respond quickly online. I envisioned Pagans around the world spreading this malware, which may have more sinister intentions than just replicating itself. I shot her a quick chat, and we got on the phone so I could help her make sure her profile was scrubbed of the thing and her teeming army of friends were notified.

This is my first encounter with a really malicious bit of code on Facebook – I guess it’s now more like MySpace than it would like to admit! Selena pondered the possibility that it was created as a reaction to the Facebook TOS controversy of late, and knowing how vindictive coders can be, I’m inclined to think she’s right.

Pagan celebrities have an interesting challenge on Facebook, one that may be unique. Since they connect so well to people personally, their Facebook profiles often get overwhelmed by adoring and caring people. I suppose other famous people also have hundreds of friends (if not thousands), but they probably have a staff member to manage the profile. I can’t imagine how time-consuming it is to get the number of invitations Selena must receive – and she’s on dial-up! Luckily, she has a Facebook page, which is really a better way to communicate with fans that admire you but don’t necessarily know you personally. It’s a suggestion I also gave to Margot Adler – what Pagan wouldn’t want to be the friend of the author of Drawing Down the Moon? But how much time should she be expected to respond to requests on Facebook? Pages allow two-way contact with fans in a manageable way; updates that go out to all fans, and a Wall and discussion boards as well. Kirk White has one, and I believe he uses it to advise fans of upcoming appearances, something else that can easily get lost in the Newsfeed if you have many friends. Heck, even I have a page – although I’m not a fan of me yet. I just wanted to justify my article on FB pages.

Moral of the story? I got a very nice chat on the phone with Selena Fox, which is a great way to start your day. After the crisis was averted, we chatted about my handfasting pictures and I told her how I Foolishly crashed the gate at PSG – but that’s a topic for another post.


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