The Top 5 Signs That Video You're About to Share Is a Scam

How to avoid social media clickjacking scams

All the major social media platforms are rife with "clickjacking" scams using bait-and-switch tactics to lure users to websites where they're prompted to take marketing surveys and/or download questionable apps. Often, by the time people realize they've been tricked, it's too late. They've already spammed their friends by sharing the post and filling out pointless surveys, only to discover that the advertised video doesn't exist, or is about something completely different from what they were led to expect. Worst case scenario, they've unwittingly infected their computers with malicious software.

Look for these signs to detect this type of scam before it's too late:

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The Post Promotes Lurid, Shocking, Even Offensive Content

Shocking Video Footage - 4 Dead in Roller Coaster Accident
As shared on Facebook

Usually preceded by screaming parentheticals on the order of "BREAKING NEWS," "SHOCKING VIDEO," "YOU WON'T BELIEVE THIS," or "WHAT A HORROR," most scam posts use macabre, prurient, sensationalized content to catch readers' attention and persuade them to click. Typical subject matter includes celebrity deaths, horrible accidents and catastrophes, grotesque medical conditions, and purportedly supernatural events.

Here are some actual examples of "scambait" headlines (don't worry, the following links go to articles about the scams, not the scams themselves):

of 05

It's Got a Funky URL

Via Facebook

It's always a good idea to check the URL (web address) of any link you're about to click. Compare it to the purported source of the content and make sure it's the same. For example, if the post supposedly links to a news story from CNN or Fox News, check to see if "" or "" is in the URL. If it isn't, don't click! Also be wary of garbled, misspelled, or downright bizarre URLs such as "," "," "," or "," etc.

of 05

You're Redirected to a Page that Looks Like Facebook, But Isn't

Screen capture of fake Facebook page

If you've been incautious enough to click on one of these links, the next thing that would typically happen is you'd be redirected to an external website that's been phonied up so it looks like you're still on, say, Facebook, but in reality you're not (again, it's a good idea to check the URL for a clue as to where you've actually landed). The scammers want you to feel safe, like you're on familiar territory, because the next thing they want you to do isn't safe. They want you to share content you haven't been allowed to see yet.

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You're Required to Share the Video BEFORE You Can View It

Screen shot of survey scam

Before you comply with this instruction, ask yourself whether it makes sense for any legitimate promo to require you to share content before you get to see it. More importantly, ask yourself whether you really want to become a scammer's accomplice, because that, in essence, is what you would become. When you click "Share This Video," you cause the same post that lured you this far to appear not only on your own timeline, but on all your friends' news feeds as well, exposing that many more people to the scam. Even if you're not sure it's a scam, do you really want to take that chance?

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You're Prompted to Complete a Marketing Survey and/or Download Software

Screen shot of survey scam

If you've clicked through this far, we're no longer talking about a video you're about to share, but rather one you have already shared and will probably soon regret sharing (e.g., when your friends figure out you're responsible for the scam post that has appeared on their page). The next action you take will determine whether or not you've been successfully scammed. If you're prompted to take an online survey and you do so, you've been successfully scammed, because that is how the scammers make their money. If you're prompted to download an app or special software and you do so, you've been successfully scammed, because frequently these downloads contain malware or can compromise the security of your social media accounts. Don't do it!

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Your Citation
Emery, David. "The Top 5 Signs That Video You're About to Share Is a Scam." ThoughtCo, Aug. 23, 2016, Emery, David. (2016, August 23). The Top 5 Signs That Video You're About to Share Is a Scam. Retrieved from Emery, David. "The Top 5 Signs That Video You're About to Share Is a Scam." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 18, 2017).