How to Spot Fake Giveaways on Facebook

Best Practices, Social Media

How often do you see a free giveaway online and you think to yourself, “Wow, I can’t believe Southwest Airlines is giving away free tickets just for sharing their post!”? There is a HUGE chance that it’s a fake giveaway. Here’s how to spot one:


Look Closer:

Think about what the company hopes to receive for promoting a contest. If they are just asking for likes and shares chances are, you are part of a hoax because those don’t bring in business. If the company is asking you to fill out a form and then share it with your friends your chances of it being real are improving.

Check the Rules:

There can be some serious problems if you sign up or download the information from a fake contest. Think about the information that you are giving the page access to. Are you allowing them to view your contacts, personal information or giving them ability to post on your page? All of that information can be sold and used to target you and your friends. Facebook’s most recent annual report revealed that fake accounts make up 5.5 – 11.2% of its monthly active users. A lot of those accounts are targeting uninformed users to get their information.

Research, Google that Stuff:

Next time you are thinking about signing up for a contest do a little research to discover if the giveaway is legitimate or not. Some things to look for are:

  • A real profile image and cover image. Nothing rasterized or containing what could be a stock photo.
  • Did the page just launch or has it communicated trustworthy information for some time? If it is new and the giveaway is the very first post, you should think again.
  • Are there a lot of misspellings or grammatical errors in the post? It’s fake!


Go to the Source:

There was a fake Southwest Airlines ticket giveaway, but I knew it was fake because it was not from the main Southwest Airlines Facebook page. I also knew it was fake because of the name, the page was listed as “Southwest Airlines.” if you look at the end of the name there is a period. Lastly, if you look at they have a direct link to their Facebook page which contained no information about a free ticket giveaway.

Kick ‘Em Out!

If you were part of a recent scam or accidentally get involved with one in the future, follow these steps I have provided to block the application and protect your personal information. Here’s what you need to do:

If you’ve already clicked that link and connected to the page then spammed all your friends, you first need to revoke the app’s access. In the top right corner of your Facebook profile page, click the blue dropdown carrot, then click Settings. On the left side of the next page, click Apps.


Then, you’ll see a list of the sites and apps that have access to your Facebook account. Look for the culprit in this area, hover over it and then click Remove.




Second, once the app is removed, you owe it to your friends to go and delete every single spam comment you left on your friends’ pages. Otherwise, you might be guilty of spreading the scam even more.

From your profile, you’ll see a long list of those who have been spammed. It should take you a few minutes to click your way through each link and delete your spam comment. It might also be a good idea to update your Facebook status, letting your friends know by any means not to click the spammy link.

Hoaxes happen all the time, most of which often generate a lot of user “Likes” before being revealed as fakes. Last December, a software engineer from Mesa, Ariz., posted a photo of himself with what he claimed was a winning Powerball lottery ticket. More than 2 million people clicked “Like” for a chance to win $1 million before it was proven a hoax.

Hopefully this makes you more aware of hoaxes on social media and will keep you from giving away your information. Been tricked by a fake giveaway? Let me know in the comments below.