What is likejacking?

You have to love the Internet. It used to take years for new words to be coined and gain popular usage. Over the last decade and a half or so, as Internet usage has evolved from something only nerds do to most people’s primary source of information, new words are coined and take off within days. Podcast. Lifehacking. Likejacking.

Likejacking is a recent term that is really just a Facebook-specific form of clickjacking that involves tricking users into following a link to a website, usually to obtain some form of content (usually video). However, the content doesn’t get delivered at all.

The user clicks on what appears to be a video player within the website, but there is no player. There is, however, a hidden link that causes the page to show up on the user’s Facebook status (i.e. “Joe Blow likes FIVE REASONS YOU SHOULD NEVER USE A CELLPHONE AGAIN”). Joe’s friends see this update, wonder what Joe now knows that they don’t, and they get roped in.

Meanwhile, Joe Blow is being redirected some sort of bogus survey site or other shady website. It’s usually a ploy by dishonest people to abuse online affiliate programs—trick a bunch of people to click on your pay-per-click ads and rake in a nice chunk of money.

The way I understand the likejacking process is this: on the malicious website, you have something that looks like an embedded video player, but is actually just a JPG image of one. This object is set up to be “transparent,” i.e. you can’t act on it by clicking, so even though you can see it, to your computer it’s not there at all. However, if a different object (such as a Facebook “like” link) is hidden underneath the JPG, when you click on what you think is a video player’s “play” button, you’re actually clicking the “like” link hidden below it.

The basic avoidance techniques are the same in the case of likejacking; if one of your friends appears to be posting a link to some sort of sensational/juicy content, don’t click. Urge your friend to remove the update, too. ALL CAPITAL LETTERS are a bad sign, as well as any variation of “once you see this _____, you won’t ever _____ again.”

Now that I typed those spaces in there, all I can think of is Mad Libs. Let’s see…a noun and a verb. Okay, DUCK and SMILE. “Once you see this duck, you won’t ever smile again!” Yeah! Comedy gold!

Oh, never mind.