All posts by Joel Fernandes

Joel Fernandes (G+) is a tech enthusiast and a social media blogger. During his leisure time, he enjoys taking photographs, and photography is one of his most loved hobbies. You can find some of his photos on Flickr. He does a little of web coding, and maintains a tech blog of his own - Techo Latte. Joel is currently pursuing his Masters in Computer Application from Bangalore, India. You can get in touch with him on Twitter - @joelfernandes, or visit his Facebook Profile for more information.

Funny Hoax on Facebook’s Privacy Settings

I thought that hoax messages like Professional Hacker Named ‘Faceb Hu’ Trying to Hack Facebook Accountand Worst Ever Virusare usually created to scare users on Facebook, but today I came across a funny hoax message indicating that there is a new issue related to Facebook  privacy which will peek into your bathroom and steal your towel while you shower.

Here’s the complete message –

Facebook Privacy Settings Joke

NEW PRIVACY ISSUE WITH FACEBOOK! As of tomorrow, Facebook will creep into your bathroom when you’re in the shower, smack your bottom, and then steal your clothes and towel. To change this option, go to Privacy Settings > Personal Settings > Bathroom Settings > Smacking and Stealing Settings, and uncheck the Shenanigans box. Facebook kept this one quiet. Copy and Paste on your status to alert the unaware

That’s really an unusual and a funny message related to Facebook’s privacy settings. However, Graham from Sophos identified the similar post, but also noticed something very strange. He found that the post was shared publicly to “everyone” on Facebook.

This isn’t a security threat, however, on a serious note, before sharing something on Facebook, make sure that you always check whom you are sharing it with. For instance, if you happen to share a personal information with “friends” or a certain group, but accidently post it as “Public”, then obviously it wouldn’t remain personal anymore.

Facebook Sharing

From the above image you can notice that you can always choose whether you want to share the information publiclyor just with friends. So double-check before you share anything on Facebook. Here are my current (custom) privacy settings on Facebook. These settings control who can see what I share.

Facebook Custom Privacy Settings

To configure your privacy settings, go to Accountsand click on Privacy Settings. I hope this will help you configure privacy settings appropriately for your personal information.

I recommend you to go through the official document released by Facebook, which will definitely help you tackle scam messages. The document is available for free and you can  download  a copy of it from the  Facebook Security Page. In addition to that, I have written an article which explains on How to prevent your Facebook account from being hacked.

Free iPhone 5 Giveaway – Facebook Scam

Earlier this week, it was reported that an Apple employee lost yet another iPhone prototype in a restaurant and bar in San Francisco. Now that Apple is working with the police to recover the missing iPhone prototype, scammers have already started to create pages and post updates on Facebook, trying to trick users by offering them free iPhone 5.

Even though Apple hasn’t officially announced the iPhone 5, users on Facebook  are falling for the trick by completing the steps required to claim the device. Here is a post that I noticed while I was on Facebook:

Free iPhone 5 Giveaway - Facebook Scam

The scam titled – Get the New iPhone 5 – Pre Release Giveaway” has a message that states “Many people are asking us that why are we giving away the iPhone 5 for free?, which increases users curiosity to know the answer to that question, and ultimately lead them to click on the link.

Clicking the link will take you to a bogus webpage, where you will see the answer to the questions as “The answer is our gaming advertisers and sponsors pay us for each of our promotion. And the  iPhone 5 for our Visitors are financed by our advertisers and sponsors. So it’s free for both, you and us.”

In order to claim the reward, you are asked to complete three steps which include, likingthe Facebook  page, sharing it with your friends and posting a message that you got a free iPhone 5 along with the link to the bogus webpage.

Recently we reported a fake Facebook contest, which indicated that Facebook is Giving 100000 Apple iPod Free. However, this was reported as a scam, and Facebook took down the page immediately.

Please note that there is NO iPhone 5 given for free. Forget about the free giveaway, Apple hasn’t announced iPhone 5 yet, so there’s no point in taking part in such contests. DO NOT likeor share the message with your friends. If you come across posts like this, please delete it or report it to the Facebook Security team.

Scammers create such posts to loot users. Sometimes you will be asked to complete online surveys by providing your credentials. Credentials that you enter are submitted to the scammer, who might then misuse it by stealing your money or hacking your accounts.

If you’re a Facebook  fan and want to stay updated on the latest scams, threats and security news, I would recommend you to bookmark the link – Techie-Buzz.com/tag/facebook-scam – where we regularly post the latest attacks or follow Techie Buzz on Facebook.

Facebook has come up with a 14 page document called Guide To Facebook Securitywhich will help its users understand the social network’s security features and possible ways to protect their account from threats like malware and phishing attacks. It also includes tips on how users can avoid  click-jacking and like-jacking scams.

I recommend you to go through the document which will definitely help you tackle scam messages. The document is available for free and you can  download  a copy of it from the  Facebook Security Page. You may also be interested in reading on  How to Prevent Your Facebook Account from Getting Hacked

Google Celebrates Freddie Mercury’s 65th Birthday With A Video Doodle

I woke up this morning and noticed that Google is celebrating Freddie Mercury’s 65th birthday, one of the greatest rock starts of all times and a brilliant songwriter. Google honored Freddie with an amazing music video doodle on its home page.

The doodle has a play button, which when clicked plays an animated music video “Don’t Stop Me Now”, one of Queen’s biggest hits that was written and sung by Freddie Mercury. This is the second video doodle that Google has ever put up on its home page. The first video doodle was on the occasion of Charlie Chaplin’s 122nd birthday.

Google Video Doodle - Freddie Mercury 65th Birthday

“It has a lot of fun, goofy stuff to celebrate what an incredible song writer, fashion icon, and musical innovator he was,” doodle team creative lead Ryan Germick told AFP during a visit to their base at Google’s headquarters in the California city of Mountain View.

“Freddy Mercury was an awesome performer, an ambitious creator and pioneered really audacious concept records,” Germick said. “We just love him; we’ve been blasting Queen for the last couple of months and it is always joyful.”

Freddie Mercury was born on 5 September 1946 in Zanzibar, and grew up in India until his mid-teens. His parents hailed from Bulsar in Gujarat. Mercury formed his first band The Hectics while studying at St Peter’s School, Panchgani.   Freddie later formed a rock band named Queenalong with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor in April 1970. Freddie was a great musician, singer, songwriter and the lead vocalist of the band.

On November 24th, 1991 Freddie died peacefully at his home in London of AIDS-related bronchial pneumonia.

If the doodle isn’t showing up on the Google search page in your region yet, you can see it  here.  Clicking on the doodle will bring up this video:

If the above video is not working, then click here to watch it.

This song is  one of my favorite songs by Queen:

Back to Old Facebook Profile – Phishing Attack

While there have been a number of phishing attacks reported earlier, cyber criminals aren’t giving up their luck, and are continuing to post phishing attacks on Facebook in an attempt to compromise user account and steal sensitive information. A new phishing  attack is underway on Facebook, which is trying to jester users by asking them to revoke to the old Facebook design.

Although users are annoyed with the recent changes that Facebook has made, cyber criminals are taking advantage of it by creating pages like Need Old Profile back, which has already attracted over 59,000 people to likeit. This is an attempt by cyber criminals to hack your Facebook account, so DO NOT likeor share the page with your friends.

Need Old Facebook Back - Phishing Attack

The Facebook  page has links that will lead to the following website –

Bring Back Old Facebook Profile - Phishing Attack

In the above webpage you are asked to follow a few steps which include likingtwo Facebook pages. Once done, you are then asked to click on the Click here to enterlink button, which will take you to a form hosted on Google Spreadsheets.

The form is titled – Facebook Converterin which you are asked to enter your Facebook  username and password. You really don’t have to do this. Since this is a phishing attack, your username and password will be sent to the scammer, who will have full control over your Facebook account.

Facebook Profile Converter - Phishing Attack

UPDATE: Google has deleted the form.

If you have accidently clicked on the link and completed the form, I advise you to immediately change the password of all your accounts. Please understand that there is no way to get back to the older version of Facebook. Facebook does not provide an option to its users to revert back to any of the previous versions. If you come across any applications or pages that claim to change your Facebook account to the older version, then please ignore or delete it. You can report such apps or pages to the Facebook Security  team.

However, there are browser  extensions  that will help your get back to the older versions of Facebook. Keith has written an article on How yo can change the new Facebook layout to the older one.

Avoiding such scams is not an easy task, but you can always follow caution. Check out the following post on to how you can  use a security application for protecting you from Facebook scams.

As a precautionary measure, always check which applications you use and remove unwanted or suspicious ones. If you aren’t sure how to do it, you can always check our guide on  removing apps from Facebook. We have compiled a list of  Most Actively Spreading Scams on Facebook  that you might want to have a look at.

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YouTube and New York Times Launch September 11 Channel

On September 11th 2001, al-Qaeda  terrorist attacks in the United States rocked the entire  world leaving them distressed and terrified. The devastating terrorist attack took away more than 3,000 lives, and the day still remains engraved in the minds of not only the Americans, but also the entire world.

YouTube in collaboration with The New York Times is marking the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attack by launching a dedicated YouTube Channel  called “Reflections on 9/11“, featuring special videos and content from the New York Times, archived news broadcasts from September 2001, and personal stories of those people whose lives were deeply affected by the attacks.

Olivia Ma, YouTube News & Politics Manager, wrote in a blog post stating, Through telling and sharing stories, we can all hope to make sense of an event that, for many of us, was one of the defining moments of our lives. Thank you for sharing yours.

YouTube is seeking its subscribers to create videos by sharing their stories, and uploading them on the site. It is working to  collaborate  with Storyful, which will pick some of the best videos, and feature them on The New York Times websites and also on the YouTube home page on September 11 this year.

Users need to create a video based on the following questions –

  • Your strongest memory of that day or that time period
  • How 9/11 changed you, and how you believe it changed America
  • What you lost – or gained — because of 9/11

The videos must be submitted to –  http://www.youtube.com/September11

Currently the channel hosts a story told by 9/11 widow Alissa Torres, who was seven months pregnant at the time of the attack. Torres went on to write the comic book, “American Widow.”

Hackers Get Paid $40k from Facebook for Reporting Security Loopholes

Just three weeks after the launch of the Bug Bounty Program, social networking giant Facebook, announced that is has paid out US$40,000 in rewards so far to expert hackers who have successfully identified and reported security loopholes on the site.

Facebook introduced the Bug Bounty Program in an aim to encourage security researchers to report loopholes and glitches on the social networking site, and as a token of appreciation, Facebook offered them a monetary bounty of $500.

Facebook Bug

In a blog post by the Chief Security Officer of Facebook, Joe Sullivan stated that, During the past three weeks, Facebook has paid more than $40,000 to security experts around the world, with one individual receiving over $7,000 for identifying 6 different issues, while another person earned $5,000″.

He also clarified that the $500 bounty is a minimum payout, thus attracting more security researchers to participate in the program and earn big bucks. However, it is also clear that the bounty program is only applicable to the Facebook website and has nothing to do with Facebook applications.

In addition to that, the researcher who reports a bug first is only rewarded. For instance, if two researchers find the same bug individually, the first one who reports it will be eligible to claim the reward.

If you are a security researcher, then you might be interested in taking part in the Bug Bounty Program? Here are some eligibility criteria that every researcher must follow –

  • You must be the first person to responsibly disclose the bug.
  • Give Facebook a reasonable time to respond to your report before making any information public.
  • You must live in a country not under any current U.S. Sanctions.
  • You agree to report issues that may compromise a user’s information including Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF/XSRF) and Remote Code injection.
  • Only one payment per bug will be awarded.
  • Bugs in third-party applications, third-party websites that integrate with Facebook, Denial of Service Vulnerabilities or Spam or Social Engineering techniques will not be eligible.

To know more about this, click here  here.

While Facebook is being extremely loyal and generous to security researchers by paying them what they deserve, other companies like Google and Mozilla offer similar services. Earlier in August 2010, it was  reported  that Google gave away a total estimate of $10k of rewards. Mozilla  also has the bug bounty program which pays $3,000 in hard cash plus a free  Mozilla  T-shirt for finding bugs!

On a similar note, in 2007 the Business Software Alliance announced that tipsters who report their company’s illegal use of unlicensed software could earn payouts of up to $1 million.

Translate Google+ into More Than 50 Languages

A good number of friends in my Google Plus circle share links or add posts that are in regional languages. The posts become useless, at least for me, since I do not understand the language. This becomes an issue, and generally people get annoyed, especially when a post looks interesting and worth a read.

When it comes to translation of text or a website to English or  any other  language, Google Translate serves the best. However, it’s more like a pain to copy-paste text from Plus to Google Translate, to understand what exactly the content is all about. Well, now that isn’t an issue anymore.

Leading frontend and mobile development for Google Translate Josh Estelle  , announced in a post that the Google Translate team have developed and come up with a Chrome extension called “Google Translate for Google+”, which uses the power of Google Translate, to automatically translate any post into more than 50 languages.

The extension basically saves Plus users from having to open the Google Translate page and translate the post into another language. The Chrome extension is available at the Chrome Web Store. Click here to install it.

After having the extension installed and refreshing your Google Plus page, you should notice a Translatelink button next to the Commentand Sharelink buttons.

Google Plus Translate

The extension works incredibly well, just like the Google Translate feature. When you click on the Translatelink button, the post gets translated instantly, without reloading the page. By default, the extension sets yellow as the background color for the translated text. However, you can change the color to any of the 12  available  colors  in the extension options.

You can also change the default language that you want to translate a post. Also make sure you have checked the Always Add to Google+option. This will always add the translate feature (translate link button) to all the posts in your stream.

Google Plus Translate

However,  Josh also  mentioned  that – “the extension is currently  experimental, as we figure out the best way to integrate translation into the Google+ community.” So if you have any suggestions or idea to  improve  the extension, you can add a comment here, or send feedback by clicking the Send Feedbackbutton.

Remove the “Live Ticker” Box on Facebook

Facebook has started rolling out the new “Live Ticker” feature to an increasing number of users, and would eventually be making it available to all users. While the new feature is positioned above the chat box on the right side of the page, many users are finding it annoying and disturbing.

The Ticker is designed to replace the “Most Recent” filter on the Facebook News Feed, providing users with real-time updates. The feature seems to be interesting, however many users find it worthless. Users on Facebook are creating threads and community pages asking Facebook to remove the Live Tickerfeature, or at least provide an option to disable it.

Annoying Facebook "Live Ticker"

There is one simple and a best way to get rid of the live ticker and the chat box. Clicking on the hide sidebarbutton on the bottom-right of the page will hide the sidebar entirely. However, there are browser extensions and add-ons to remove it.

Hide Facebook Sidebar

If you’re a Google Chrome user, there’s an extension that is available, which will completely remove the live ticker from your Facebook page. Download the extension file here, and once the extension is installed, refresh or open Facebook in a new tab. You will now notice that the live ticker has been disabled.

Firefox or other browser users can try downloading Better Facebookextension. Once you have installed the add-on (extensions) for your browser, click on the Better Facebook! Optionsbutton.

From the option box, enable Advanced Options Modeand then click on CSS. Copy the following CSS code and paste it in the area provided. Save the settings and refresh your Facebook page, and you will see that the live ticker has disappeared.

 /* Hide the live ticker */
 .ticker_stream { display:none !important; }

Better Facebook - Hide Facebook Live Ticker

Facebook has been known to annoy users with newer design changes, and it is no surprise that people are upset with such an attitude. Last time Facebook annoyed users with a new rollout for the image viewer, however, you can  easily disable the Facebook Theater mode  too.

Earlier last month, Google also annoyed users by  changing their homepage design  and adding a black bar at the top. You can  easily remove the black bar in Google  and similarly also revert back to the old Facebook chat  by installing a    script.

I’m guessing that Facebook has introduced this feature to combat with its rival, Google Plus. What do you think of the new “Live Ticker”. Do you find it annoying too? Let us know by adding your comments below.

Watch out for Hurricane Irene Scams and Phishing Attacks on Facebook and Twitter

Any major event that occurs will certainly draw people’s attention on the Internet. We had seen a huge chaos when the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death came in. When such events occur, scammers take advantage of users’ curiosity and create scam messages (including phishing attacks), and post them across social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, or send phishing emails.

When the  Osama Bin Laden’s death news came in, people were curious to know if there were any leaked images or videos posted on the Internet. Scammers took advantage of this curiosity and created scam messages like – “Osama Bin Laden’s Leaked Death Video” and “Pics of Osama Bin Laden Are Finally Released“, and posted them on Facebook and Twitter. These scams spread through the Internet within minutes targeting user accounts by stealing their login credentials.

As the Hurricane Irene barrels up the East Coast, users on the Internet should lookout for scam messages and phishing attacks related to the storm news. It is likely that scammers will create phishing attacks and other malicious activity, and publish them across the Internet.

Facebook Scams

Newsworthy events, like in this case – Hurricane Irene, usually trigger malicious links and phishing attacks that spread across Facebook. Users on Facebook should stay observant of links promising them to show leakedvideos, pictures and other information related to Hurricane Irene.Hurricane Irene

Facebook users are tricked very easily. When users click on scam links, they will be taken to bogus websites where they will be asked to complete online surveys or download malicious programs, such as a codec to watch a video. These malware programs are designed to gather user information including email ids,  user names, passwords and credit card details. Sometimes these malicious programs are downloaded automatically where users are blindly infected.

I suggest all users on Facebook to be cautious, and do not blindly click on links that promise you to show videos or pictures, including those which are posted by your friends. This implies to users on Twitter as well. Watch out for re-tweets and DMs with links that lead to fake (clone) login pages where you will be asked to re-enter your username and password, causing a potential threat to your account.

Here’s an article that will help you Prevent Your Facebook Account from Getting Hacked.  We constantly report scams and hoax messages that are spreading on Facebook. You can always stay updated by bookmarking this link –  Techie-Buzz.com/scams

Charity Scams

Watch where you donate! There are thousands of fake charity websites that are created, which attempt to collect donations to help hurricane victims. Do a research before making any donations and make sure that you’re donating to the right charity.

If you’re making any donations, then make sure that you avoid third party sites and organizations, and head straight to the charity’s main website that you want to reach out to.

The FBI has issued warnings about Hurricane Irene charity scams, and has offered some excellent tips  to protect you against charity scammers:

  • Do not respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
  • To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
  • Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization’s website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
  • Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organization by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.
  • Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

If you believe you have been a victim of a charity related scheme, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud by

You can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at  www.IC3.gov.

Creating a Google Plus Account Now Requires You to Enter Your Birthday

According to The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), users registering on websites like Facebook, which collect information from users, are asked to enter their (real) date of birth at the time of registration. This indicates that users (children) below 13 years of age are restricted from creating the account.

The same law is now applied to Google Plus and Google Accounts as well. Google is now requiring new users to enter their real birth date while  registering on their social networking site Google Plus, or any other services provided by Google. If the entered date indicates that you are below 13 years of age, then you won’t be able to create an account and you will receive a notification stating that “Google could not create your account. In order to have a Google Account, you must meet certain age requirements. To learn more about online child safety, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

Google Accounts Birthday

If you’re already on Google Plus and your entered age is not above 13 years, then it is likely that your account will be disabled (deleted) in the next 30 days. There isn’t any option for you to edit you birth date of your current account.

However, you can re-enable your Google Plus account by completing any of the following steps –

  • Sending in a signed form via mail or fax with a copy of your current, government-issued ID showing your date of birth, or
  • Performing a small transaction ($0.30 USD) on a valid credit card.

Please note that you will be charged $1 USD for your transaction of $0.30 USD.

If you have chosen to use your credit card to make the transaction, then your Google Plus account will be re-enabled within minutes. However, if you’re using the mail or fax option, then it can take several days or even a couple of weeks for your account to get re-activated.

Facebook also requires entering user’s birth date at the time of registration. However, Mark Zuckerberg strongly feels that kids who are below 13 years of age should to be allowed to use social networking sites.

Though there are millions of kids (below 13 years of age) who are already using Facebook by giving fake birth dates, Zuckerberg is determined to change this rule and wants to make it legal. He believes that allowing kids onto social networking site will help them learn new things quickly and effortlessly.