My Birthday Calendar warning spreads quickly on Facebook, generating panic

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Privacy, Rogue applications

Birthday candles. Image from ShutterstockFacebook users are spreading a warning to their friends and family online about a supposedly malicious application called "My birthday calendar".

The warning about the birthday app claims that "just a click makes it starts (sic) sending requests to all your friends/contacts".

However, it appears that the warnings are causing much more traffic and wasting more time than the supposedly aggressive Facebook application.

Here's what a typical warning looks like:

My Birthday Calendar warning on Facebook

WARNING: URGENT! People are getting inquiries allegedly linked to a program called "my birthday calendar". "My birthday calendar" is a malicious application to retrieve data from all profiles. It's very aggressive, just a click makes it starts sending requests to all your friends/contacts. If a request comes from me just ignore it; NOTE please copy and warn your friends

We haven't seen any evidence that a Facebook application called "My Birthday Calendar" is behaving any differently from the many thousands of other Facebook apps.

So, I think it would be appropriate to classify this chain letter as a hoax warning.

Of course, you should always be careful about which Facebook apps you allow to connect with your account, as they can collect varying levels of information about you. If you aren't comfortable with that, don't install the app.

Furthermore, even if you are careful about what Facebook apps you install - are your friends being just as cautious?

It may surprise you to hear that when other Facebook users choose to install apps they can then share the information they can see about you with those apps.

Apps other people use privacy option

Visit your Facebook privacy settings and untick those options if you wish to limit what information about you your Facebook friends can share with third-party applications.

Don't forget you should join the Naked Security from Sophos Facebook page, where we not only debunk hoaxes and chain letters, but we also keep you up-to-date on the latest security and privacy issues threatening Facebook users.

Birthday candles image from Shutterstock.

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10 Responses to My Birthday Calendar warning spreads quickly on Facebook, generating panic

  1. Marty Weinhous · 628 days ago

    Followed your link above, "your Facebook privacy settings," and did not get the page/options you display.

    • Janice · 628 days ago

      on the left there is a cube with Apps next to it. Click that and then it goes to a page where you can see Apps others use then click Edit and walaa you can see the page.

  2. Heather · 628 days ago

    I did - it's a little further down the screen.

  3. Wilfred P. Muggins · 628 days ago

    Privacy settings for apps are nowhere to be found. Help!

    • Jean · 628 days ago

      Click on any Settings. Then click on Apps Settings. Scroll down until you see Apps Others Use, with an Edit button to the right. Click on it to see the list, as above. All mine are unticked!

      Hope that helps.

  4. Art Frog · 628 days ago

    I don't see the settings for apps, either.
    However I do have all apps turned off & that may be why.

    • Lona · 628 days ago

      Ir you block all apps then it is set and cannot access your account... only when you play games or dont block all they can access your account ANYTIME, and POST ON YOUR BEHALF so it is an issue

  5. Sum Guy · 628 days ago

    From my experience it appears most if not all Facebook apps post on your behalf whether you like it or not. There seems to be little you can do about. Despite these being legit apps, I would call posting on my behalf malicious, and a violation. I tell all my friends to stay away from all Facebook apps due to this detail alone. There was a write up on this not long ago here on naked security.

    Also some of the Facebook adds seem to go to malicious sites running malicious script. It seems Facebook does not screen it's advertisers and any crook can advertise on FB. I am not afraid to click. i want to see what infects peoples PC's so i can fix warn what not to do. It seems nothing is safe to do anymore :(

  6. Jeers for not actually showing HOW to get to that settings page, the whole point of the article.
    I found it by following the Privacy link at bottom>Interactive Tools>Applications I Use> and that page had a section for Apps Others Use.
    This seems to me a CRITICAL set of functions that Facebook should have led every single user to in the first place: otherwise they are just saying they don't care where your data goes.

  7. Amy · 490 days ago

    I downloaded this application and it did exactly what your blog above said - immediately sent email requests to all my contacts in outlook, facebook, etc. Is there any way to stop these emails from being sent to my contacts. I keep telling them to ignore/delete, but some of my corporate contacts are getting extremely annoyed. I've blocked and deleted the application and have no other ideas.

    Appreciate any help or suggestions you can provide.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.