Facebook teaches users how to kill adware

Filed Under: Apple Safari, Facebook, Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Privacy, Social networks, Spam

Facebook screen, courtesy ShutterstockCurious to know who's been checking you out on Facebook? Tempted to see who's visited your timeline? Itching to pick out your own timeline theme? Maybe something with palm trees or flamingos?

Put that click-happy finger away. Most such features don't exist on Facebook, though there are plenty of promotions that promise to deliver the goods.

In fact, if you click on the promotions, what they actually often deliver is adware; software that automatically renders advertisements.

Such software can "cover your account with ads, make your pages load slowly, and compromise your security," Facebook Security advises in a video posted last week.

This type of adware can potentially scoop up users' personal information and/or spread spam and scams across our networks.

If you're seeing ads on your Facebook timeline or News Feed, chances are you've clicked a similar 'nastyware' download. Facebook has a list of adware programs it is warning its users about on its adware page:

Facebook lists adware programs

One sign that you've been infected with Facebook-aware adware is the appearance of ads in banners in the center, top or left column on Facebook. Facebook never puts legitimate ads in these spots. Ads that flash or automatically play sounds are suspect as well, according to Facebook:

If you're seeing ads in these locations, or ads that flash or play sounds automatically, you probably have adware.

Facebook's video walks users through adware detection and disabling on the most popular browsers.

In a nutshell, here are the instructions for the big four browsers:

Firefox: Click tools→Add-ons→Extensions

Safari: Click Safari→Preferences→Extensions

Chrome: Click Window→Extensions

IE 8: Click Tools→Manage add-ons→Toolbars & extensions

Once you get to the add-on page for any of the above browsers, review the list of plugins and remove any that appear suspicious.

While you're at it, remove any adware messages from your timeline, and if you don't see the program on Facebook's list of known adware, report it as spam to Facebook.

Make sure that you keep informed about the threats impacting Facebook users. Join the Sophos page on Facebook, where over 170,000 people regularly share information on the latest attacks and discuss the latest security news.

Facebook image, courtesy Shutterstock

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6 Responses to Facebook teaches users how to kill adware

  1. Robert Wurzburg · 1284 days ago

    Let's not forget the infamous 'Unlike' button, which Facebook fails to mention among
    others. They should list EVERY single known exploit used on their website to warn
    their community of users.
    It's the very least they can do to protect their clients and user computers, considering
    how much genuine advertising revenue you are worth to them to keep using the site.

  2. Keiran Bolton · 1284 days ago

    I think Facebook developers thinks everyone works in the world according to Apple. For example, with the Chrome extensions for Windows-based machines, we don't even have a Windows menu. It's Gear, Tools, Extensions. Firefox is Firefox Menu, Addins, Extensions.
    I also noticed that they didn't even account for Opera-based users. Why? Opera is still a big web browser despite it being red and icky.
    If Facebook are going to provide security support for their users, they need to consider that an extremely high percentage of their users don't use Apple software. Plus, as Robert said, there's always the Unlike button (despite it being hard to find on some applications within Facebook). What they need to concentrate on is policing the rogue websites utilising Like buttons and bypassing permissions and being able to create content on walls which the user doesn't agree to.

    • Brady · 1284 days ago

      Sounds like you need to update your Firefox. It's been as they mentioned for about a year in the Windows version.

  3. Cheryl · 1284 days ago

    Screenshots of what adware on a Facebook page in both old format and new format might be helpful so that inexperienced FB users might be able to identify if they have this problem would be helpful.

  4. Facebook apps are worse offenders than most browser extensions. Disable all Facebooks apps before you do any of the things recommended in this article. Facebook has a simple one-click "disable the Facebook app platform" that I recommend to everyone.

  5. Most of the adware from Internet Explorer have to be removed from add / remove and / or use a seperate malware remover since Internet Explorer does not have an add-on system in place like Firefox and Chrome.

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About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.