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Facebook Privacy Security Social Networks The Internet

Facebook's Mandatory Anti-Malware Scan Is Invasive and Lacks Transparency (wired.com) 56

Louise Matsakis, writing for Wired: The internet is full of Facebook users frustrated with how the company handles malware threats. For nearly four years, people have complained about Facebook's anti-malware scan on forums, Twitter, Reddit, and on personal blogs. The problems appear to have gotten worse recently. While the service used to be optional, Facebook now requires it if it flags your device for malware. And according to screenshots reviewed by WIRED from people recently prompted to run the scan, Facebook also no longer allows every user to select what type of device they're on. The malware scans likely only impact a relatively small population of Facebook's billions of users, some of whose computers may genuinely be infected. But even a fraction of Facebook's users still potentially means millions of impacted people.

The mandatory scan has caused widespread confusion and frustration; WIRED spoke to people who had been locked out of their accounts by the scan, or simply baffled by it, on four different continents. The mandatory malware scan has downsides beyond losing account access. Facebook users also frequently report that the feature is poorly designed, and inconsistently implemented. In some cases, if a different user logs onto Facebook from the same device, they sometimes won't be greeted with the malware message. Similarly, if the "infected" user simply switches browsers, the message also appears to occasionally go away.

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Facebook's Mandatory Anti-Malware Scan Is Invasive and Lacks Transparency

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  • Having not used facebook in over a decade, the kinds of things happening on it now sound so alien to it's origins, in a bad way. Roll on decentralised networking.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Facebook's Mandatory Anti-Malware Scan Is Invasive and Lacks Transparency

    Hmm... that's not quite right...

    Facebook Is Invasive and Lacks Transparency

    There we go, much more accurate.

    • Facebook Is Invasive and Lacks Transparency

      Yeah . . . everybody knows that . . . but Facebook users don't care about that . . . otherwise, they wouldn't be Facebook users.

      Facebook can't be that invasive . . . otherwise it would have seen what the Russian hackers and Fake newsers were up to.

  • UserAgent string (Score:5, Insightful)

    by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @05:49PM (#56178575)
    Browse FB (if you must) with your UserAgent string set to FreeBSD. Do they even MAKE a "malware scanner" for FreeBSD? If it doesn't exist for the platform, it's not likely to be offered.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      But nobody with freebsd can hug anyone

      • by Anonymous Coward

        That's why mine says OS/2!

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Browse FB (if you must) with your UserAgent string set to FreeBSD. Do they even MAKE a "malware scanner" for FreeBSD? If it doesn't exist for the platform, it's not likely to be offered.

      Of course they do. Not for FreeBSD malware, mind you, but it'll scan for any sort of malware to prevent your FreeBSD machine from being an inadvertent carrier of malware.

      It's the same reason why Linux is hacked - not because it's to spread Linux malware, but to infect some service so it can spread malware to Windows machines

  • What you need to do is buy an Apple product. Doesn't matter what kind as long as you can log onto Facebook. Go do that and stay there until we tell you it's OK to stop. Bye.
  • by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @06:34PM (#56178793)

    So now our entire OS is to be exposed as a database for their analytics? Color me not interested.

  • What kind of moron would let a company like FB have full access to their device? Oh, the typical FB moron I guess. Glad I never made an account.
  • More information (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The article is unfortunately lacking in details. From what I can tell, the malware scan is triggered when Facebook believes the account is posting spam. In fairness, there is a lot of malware-related spam that gets posted on Facebook and they have a legitimate reason to keep it off their site.

    The problem is the complete lack of transparency and that the antivirus products can remove and share information about files in your computer. There has to be a much better way to do this. For example, Facebook could

  • Scan, Scam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kmassare ( 113285 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @07:25PM (#56179121)

    Whenever I get a "warning" about malware on my device, I assume that the message is a scam where someone wants to charge me to "fix" my device or wants to install malware on it.

    • by sinij ( 911942 )

      Whenever I get a "warning" about malware on my device, I assume that the message is a scam where someone wants to charge me to "fix" my device or wants to install malware on it.

      In this specific case, it just Zuk wants to scan your PC to find out what kind of porn you are into.

  • I've heard of "impacted feces", but never "impacted people"...

  • 1) Rinnnngggg

    2) Hello?

    3) (Thick Indian accent) This is Facebook calling. We have detected that your Facebook is infected by virus. Please enable remote login to your machine and give us your credit card number.

    4) Profit

  • Is FB actually scanning my entire computer every time I log in? Does a browser provide the kind of access needed to determine that malware is present in the first place?

  • Problem solved!

  • Reason #683,215,971 why I won't have anything to do with Facebook.

    "Trust us, we just want to scan every file on your device to umm, errr...to keep you safe, yeah, that's the ticket!"

    Because we know how much Facebook values your privacy and that they would never ever misuse your information...

  • Keeping devices and services secure vs keeping them functional has always been a trade off, there is hardly ever a best of both worlds. Nor can you expect any of it to be perfect. Considering all the crap I have found on FB and the ridiculous things people believe and click not to mention just how bad so many peoples computers are (I see alot), I would prefer they have a scanner. The fact that people can't figure it out just points to why its needed, I would be willing to bet they are the ones with infected

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