Likejacking is a variation on clickjacking in which malicious coding is associated with a Facebook Like button. The most common purposes of likejacking include identity theft and the dissemination of viruses, social spam and hoaxes.
A "Like" is an endorsement of a post, product, business or some other page content, registered by clicking the button associated with that item. There are two basic types of likejacking. Both involve a post that is likely to attract the user, such as an offer for a free gift card or a compelling video, and both spread through ill-advised or automatically generated shares and likes. The initial post may be enabled through a hacked account or the acceptance of a request to add a friend, who turns out to be a scammer.
In one variation, clicking on the post itself brings up a splash page that is coded so that if the user clicks anywhere on the page, it registers as a "Like" and shares the original post to the user's Facebook wall. The purpose of this type of exploit may be spreading a hoax or fraudulent promotion of a business or product.
In the other version, the developers responsible for the post add coding to the Like button that leads users through a series of pages designed to gather their personal information, such as surveys and membership applications. The scammer may receive payment for each completed survey. Applications for membership may require credit card information for "fee payment."
Here are a few common examples of likejacking:
- An image of a sick or injured child with text claiming that Facebook will donate $1 toward the child's care for every like.
- A false offer for a free voucher or gift card. These have included offers of $50, $100 and $250 give-aways from Starbuck's, Costco and Walmart.
- A bogus offer for a free iPad, iPhone or other popular electronic device.
- An image of an attractive young woman along with a compelling message such as "The Prom Dress That Got This Girl Suspended From School."
To protect yourself from likejacking, security experts recommend that you use caution in clicking, liking or sharing posts and be extremely skeptical about any free offers.