Dear Paprika: Be Sceptical About Facebook Contests

Dear Paprika,

Recently, I received an invitation by friends on Facebook to win Samsung products at https://www.facebook.com/events/378941895529540/?ref=ts&fref=ts

A screenshot of the dubious contest page.

There have been many such contests on Facebook and I am very sceptical about them. This particular contest uses Samsung’s name but here are the red flags I see:

  1. There is no link to Samsung actually endorsing it. Sponsors usually like their logos displayed prominently at contest websites and events.
  2. There is bad English in the copy. I worked with an advertising agency before and such errors would incur the wrath of the client as it reflects poorly on them.
  3. It is organised by “12Health” (https://www.facebook.com/12healthy) which is an unheard-of organisation. There is nothing written in their “About Us” section. You would think an organisation entrusted by Samsung would be more prepared and transparent.
  4. They are giving away “2,000 Galaxy Tabs, 500 Galaxy S3 and 100 Galaxy Note 2 FREE to our users online.” That is an estimated RM3.2million worth of prizes! And they don’t even have an external website?!
  5. The rules for winning are vague. It does not say what happens when they run out of prizes, no closing dates or how they keep track of which friends are invited by you. The usual disclaimers such as “proof of posting is not proof of receipt” or “the judge’s decision is final” to protect the contest organisers are not stated. A large company such as Samsung would not open itself to such vulnerabilities.
  6. The “12Health” site is not about promoting good health! Even though they ask the contestants to shout “I want to be healthy with Samsung” their Facebook page is a jumble of nonsense collected from the Internet. On the other hand, Samsung is a major player in the health care industry (http://www.samsung.com/us/it_solutions/healthcare/healthcare.html) so why would Samsung endorse a “health contest” that does not promote health?

Screenshot of 12Health's Facebook page.

Mr Bean's IC?! (Screenshot taken of 12Health's Facebook page)

What I think

This is probably a scam to get people to like the “12Health” Facebook page.

Remember when I told you,

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is?

Doesn’t this contest sound too good to be true? You only have to recommend your friends to “click ‘like’ at 12Health’s Facebook page” and say “I want to be healthy with Samsung”, and you can win a prize worth RM2000!

Companies run contests as a means to promote their brand or product. In this contest, what is Samsung trying to achieve? Are they promoting their healthcare division or their phones and tablets? Neither, I suspect. I smell something fishy because there is no link or write up about Samsung’s brand or product or division at the contest site. Would Samsung really spend RM3.2 million to promote 12Health’s Facebook page?! I think not. Companies do not spend money willy nilly unless they can increase sales; especially so when it is to the tune of RM3.2 million!

Online Dangers

Facebook has turned into an Internet microcosm  all by itself. Once you log in, there is little need for you to log out. Your friends are there, you can chat with them and browse their photos, you can play games there, you can read news and jokes without leaving the site; just about everything you like is found on Facebook.

Their user base is so large that it has also become a hunting ground for hackers and scammers looking for victims. These scammers hope to engage you so they can steal your money or information (they will use information about you to break into your bank account or to extort money from you). There have been numerous cases of Facebook apps and games using their users’ information for illegal reasons. Here is a good article: Which Facebook Apps Steal Your Data (and How to Stop Them)

Apple and Amazon are also not immune to hackers because of their large user base. This is one victim’s story: How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking. In a short period, this poor guy lost everything he built online. Even experienced Internet users fall prey to hackers and scammers.

It is good to apply a good dose of scepticism when you see things like this. It does not matter if a friend invites you to join in. Use your own logic and put your thinking cap on. Be extra careful when clicking on links that could lead to trouble. Remember “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”.

Websites such as Facebook are wonderful for connecting with people. Stay safe online.

Your loving father,

Daddy


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Pepper is the father of two adorable children named Paprika Lim and Saffron Lim. "Dear Paprika" is a series of letters written for posterity. When Paprika is 20 years old, he will be 61. He prefers to use logic and evidence when presented with seemingly miraculous events. He supports LGBT rights and believes a person’s sexuality is no concern of others. In his spare time, he authored "The Troublesome Prince Lucky Mole"; a best-seller children’s story book. His family lives in beautiful Malaysia, a country rich in natural resources and unlimited potential. He moves with UndiMsia and APOSL. He has plans to make his family proud.

Posted on 19 December 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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