Sorry Kids, Here’s Why I Don’t Have 5000 Free #FacebookCredits For You

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Hi children of the world, I actually don’t have 5000 Facebook Credits to give to each of you. I’m sorry about that, I wish I did. But before you get upset, let me explain.

A few years ago, back when I was at VentureBeat, I wrote a post about an early version of Credits that Facebook had been testing out. It wasn’t the virtual currency payment system that you use in FarmVille today, it was an experimental social reputation currency. You could do things like give people Credits for status update that you thought were smart or useful. Accumulating lots of Credits indicated you had a good reputation with your Facebook friends.

Fast forward to this past August. My long-forgotten Facebook author page started getting dozens of Wall posts from Facebook users — mostly children — from around the world. Every one of them was pleading with me to provide the 5000 free Facebook Credits that they claimed I’d promised them. Annoyed, I turned off Wall posts. They resorted to commenting on my profile picture.

I couldn’t figure it out. I have definitely never promised anyone free Credits. I mean, I’m a tech blogger. I give people free coverage if I think they deserve it, and that’s it.

After continuing to delete comments day after day, I started asking other writer friends to see if they were experiencing anything similar, and I posted on my page Wall asking what exactly was going on.

The answer came in two parts. MG reminded me about the post, and some of the Credit-seekers directed me to the following Blogger site: http://free5000-game-credits.blogspot.com/

There, I discovered a page with a doctored screenshot from my old post. Instead of the original image showing me giving MG “+10″ Credits “at 4:41pm April 3rd,” the image had been Photoshopped to say “+5000 #FacebookCredits,” with instructions to “Please confirm you would like 5000 free Facebook credits by typing #FacebookCredits in the comments box below. (Your browser will automatically redirect you after [to my author page].”

As of when I took the screenshot below, the web page had accumulated nearly 55,000 Likes and more than 18,000 comments.

What are the key takeaways from this major tech news story?

- Children of the world, don’t believe every free giveaway on the internet, especially if it’s in the form of a horribly designed web site with flashing animations that asks you to provide your Facebook information in exchange for an absurdly large gift. I’m not quite sure what the site owner is doing with all your likes, but possibilities include selling the data they gather through the button, or using the publishing feature to push other scams to your news feed. Seriously, Facebook Credits scams are a big problem.

- This is my first weekend at TechCrunch, and if MG posted about the Google goats right after joining (which is an environmentally sound idea, in my opinion), then it’s only proper that I post something this silly

- Whoever made the free Credits page sucks

- If you publish to the internet, watch out for how your content might get abused by unscrupulous parties

- Whoever is running the scam appears to have recently moved on from misusing me to tricking users into sharing an awful video; hopefully Blogger will shut this account down soon

- Become a fan of my Facebook page AND YOU TOO CAN RECEIVE FREE 5000 #FacebookCredits!!!!!