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Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Tag-jacking is the exploitation of Facebook's friend-tagging feature to spread unwanted material such as scams, spam or malware.

People use Facebook's user tagging function to ensure that the identified users see particular posts. Typing a friend's name in a post or comment or adding a tag to a photograph creates a link to the individual's account. Depending on their security settings, the post may show up on the user's page. 

By exploiting permissive security settings, an intruder can make their content show up in the user's news feed and potentially the news feeds of their friends. Here's an example of a tag-jacking exploit: 

  1. The attacker gains access to an authorized user, for example through account hacking, creating a fake account or sending friend requests to target users. 
  2. The attacker creates a post tagging groups of people who are Facebook friends and using some kind of clickbait to compel the users to respond. 
  3. When a user clicks the attacker's post, a pop-up window says they have to download a file to see a video. However, what is actually downloaded is malware that gives the attacker access to the user's computer and enables identity theft and other crimes. 
  4. The attacker also gains control of the user's Facebook account and can then target all the friends in his network and so perpetuate the scam. 

It's not possible to prevent people from tagging you on Facebook but you can review tagged posts before they show up in your newsfeed. How to enable tag review: Click "Settings" from the drop-down list at the top right-hand corner of the Facebook page. Click "Timeline and tagging" in the left column. Ensure that the option to review tagged posts before they appear in your timeline is enabled. 

See also: likejacking, clickjacking, likebaiting



This was last updated in August 2015

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