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Don't Fall Prey to Facebook 'Timeline' Scams

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on February 08, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

You may be either "pro" or "con" when it comes to Facebook's new Timeline feature. If you are in the "con" category, you may wish for a solution that will cause the service to revert back to how it was before it changed. But beware: In so doing, you could become the victim of a scam.

Indeed, ever since Facebook introduced Timeline, a variety of fraudulent Internet postings have cropped up, proclaiming they can restore your profile to its original pre-Timeline state.

Those who bite at the bait could receive wall posts that essentially are spam. They may also receive a slew of advertising, or they could be the source of unintended messages to friends.

Worse yet, users snagged by a Facebook Timeline scam might unwittingly install malware that presents a threat to the security of their computers.

And if they provide credit-card information, they may find that they have become the victims of identity theft, resulting in the purchase of goods and services for someone other than the credit-card holder.

The scams can be sneaky, promising to disable the new Timeline and providing suggestions that should be red flags. For example, the suggestions may include telling the user to ignore warnings that what the scammer is offering could cause harm to the user's computer. Another suggestion tells the user to wait 24 hours before the new Timeline is disabled -- a clever tactic to obfuscate the fact that no real change is going to be forthcoming.

So, even if you are against the new Facebook Timeline, you may be better off living with it than putting yourself at risk of a scam. If you feel that you are a scam victim, you can report a page to Facebook that you believe is fraudulent.

The words "be careful out there" certainly have meaning in this new Timeline context.

Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP ( where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. His Web site is and he can be reached at To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please send an email to him with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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