Scammers continuously seek methods to try to fool unsuspecting people to fall into their traps. These days schemers often turn to digital methods of contact to maximize their visibility and increase the number of victims they snare.

They'll use a number of approaches including email, text messages and even the good ‘ol fashioned telephone is not out of the question. Scammers will use any technique they think they can exploit. Social media is another outlet fraudsters love to exploit, and Facebook is one of the networks they love to turn to due to the massive number of people across the globe who use it.

In 2011 and 2012 a widespread scam emerged on Facebook called the "dislike button scam". The scams were rehashes of an older Facebook scam that had originally emerged in August 2010. The scam resurfaced in a big way in the fall of 2015 and chances are it will likely make a return in the future.

Facebook dislike button
Credit: By Kvarki1 CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Not_facebook_dislike_thumbs_down.png

Over the years many users have asked for a 'dislike' button to be added to the options on Facebook. To date, the company has not offered one. If you see an option to "add" one to your Facebook account, as tempting as it might be, it is a scam.

What is the Facebook 'Dislike' Button Scam?

The scam is a spin on a popular Facebook feature, the legitimate “Like” button. The scammers hope to appeal to those users who may want to “dislike” web pages rather than “like” them. Not to mention a “dislike” button is a popular request often made by Facebook members.

What the fraudsters did was create a falsified “dislike” button and call it an official feature created by Facebook. The message that circulated the social network spread through messages that said, "Facebook now has a dislike button! Click 'Enable Dislike Button' to turn on the new feature." At the time, Sophos security reported the way the layout of the scam is designed could "fool some users into believing it is genuine." Unfortunately, many people fell for it.

In 2015 when the scam reemerged it was on the heels of an announcement by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that the network was working on an alternative to the “like” button so people could express sympathy, things that were hesitant to hit “like” on. Something that people who necessarily didn’t want to comment could offer a sympathetic acknowledgement. Schemers placed the scam in user feeds and led people to a fake, but authentic-looking branded “Facebook” website.

Mark Zuckerberg
Credit: Silverisdead, accessed via Wikimedia Commons/CC by 2.0 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mark_Zuckerberg_(Pic_1).jpg

Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly said over the years the popular social network will likely not ever add one in that form.

How Does the Scam Spread?

Users that clicked the link ended up spreading the message through their Facebook walls and shared it with all their connections, which, of course, perpetrated the scam even further. Users were also led to a web page instructing the user to place some Javascript code into their browser, always a risky action.

In 2015 the scam came as “invite only” and asked users to spread the invite to five groups in order to activate the new button. Of course, this only perpetuated the scam in a big way. [4]

Odds of a 'Dislike Button' Being Added to the Network

Every time this scam has emerged, Facebook has said it has not had nor has any immediate intention on adding a dislike button. In 2010 when this scam first surfaced, Zuckerberg said the much-requested "dislike" button is "something that we would definitely think about," but made no commitment in stating the button would ever become a reality. [5] Over the years he has continually held this position.

Zuckerberg did hold true to his revamp of the “Like” feature by adding abilities to express different emotions instead of just “Like”. This includes “wow”, “love”, “haha”, “sad” and “angry”. As for a dislike button, nope, still didn’t happen. In reality, while one should perhaps never say never, this type of button is likely never going to surface as a legitimate network feature. At least not in this form, and probably not in any form.

Facebook Scrabble
Credit: Jonathan Rolande via Flickr CC by 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonathanrolande/16390483174

Facebook is a popular target for scams due to its massive user base. The larger the number of users, the larger the payoff for fraudsters.

Be On Guard

There is always the possibility the dislike button scam could appear again at some point in the future. ConsumerProtect.com lists the “dislike button scam” as one of the top six social media scams. [7]

Not to mention, recycled scams are very common. Users should know as alluring as a Facebook "dislike" button may be as a feature, it is almost certain if one emerges, the button is a fake. Always use caution and check media reports before turning on any feature claiming to be a dislike button on Facebook. If such a feature were to ever be implemented by Facebook, there would more than likely be a ton of media coverage and fanfare surrounding its release. Things like this are big news, not random options that suddenly show up in user feeds.

Facebook is a popular scam target due to the massive level of traffic that filters through the network daily. With more than a billion members, this number of users make Facebook an attractive platform for scammers. Be vigilant when using this or any other social network to avoid getting snagged into a scam.

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Facebook "Dislike"
Credit: Sean MacEntee via Flickr/CC by 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/5683562879