Description: Viral posts
Circulating since: April 2014
Status: SCAM (see details below)
As shared on Facebook, April 28, 2014:
800 Pound Snake Pulled out of Lake in Chicago Illinois
Click to WATCH the News!
Analysis: This is a clickjacking scam. The touted video doesn't exist. No 800-pound snake was found in any lake near Chicago, Illinois. Given that the largest known species of snake tops out at around 550 pounds max, it's safe to say no 800-pound snake has ever been found anywhere.
Blurbs for the nonexistent video were created using an actual photo taken in Indonesia in 2012. The specimen in the image is probably a reticulated python whose size is greatly enhanced by camera perspective. The same photo was used previously in an online hoax claiming that it documents the capture of a 24-foot-long, 700-pound rattlesnake in North Carolina.
Scams like this spread by tempting users into trying to access videos they're required to share before viewing, which causes the blurbs to be republished on their own timelines and friends' news feeds, where more users are exposed to them, and so on ad infinitum. Users who comply are then redirected to pages where they're invited to take surveys, accept promotional offers, and/or download software -- in this case, a "special media player codec" -- which is inadvisable, to put it mildly, given that there's no way to know where the software is coming from or what it really does.
At no point does anyone ever actually get to view the video, because, again, the video doesn't exist.
It's not worth risking the security of your social media account, computer, or network by clicking on links in fly-by-night posts like these. When "shocking" or "breaking news" video blurbs turn up in your news feed for no apparent reason, play it safe and just delete them. Advise your friends to do the same.
More Facebook clickjacking scams:
• "Great White Shark Tears Captain Apart in Seconds" Video
• "OMG Teen Died Immediately After Friends Did This" Video
• "Giant Snake Swallows Up a Zookeeper" Video
• "16 People Dead in Roller Coaster Accident" Video
• "Girl Killed Herself Live on Cam" Video
• "You Won't Believe What This Pregnant Girl Does!" Video
• "Will Smith Pronounced Dead" Video
How to Protect Yourself from Clickjacking Attacks
About.com: Internet/Network Security
How to Keep Your Facebook Account Secure
Facebook Help Center
How to Spot a Facebook Survey Scam
Facecrooks.com, 6 February 2011
Giant Snakes Eating Zookeepers and Unwatchable Videos
Sophos Naked Security, 13 June 2012
About That Giant Dead Rattlesnake Email You Got...
Living Alongside Wildlife, 6 July 2013
Last updated 04/30/14