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The Persuader

My personal blog, started in 2006.

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If Facebook says you have malware, do not download their program—here’s a way around it

An interesting weekend on Facebook. Despite regaining access, I’m not allowed to post links (with the accusation that my computer is infected—see above), and after considerable research, I know this to be completely untrue. The Facebook malware accusations are targeted at certain users and, from the tiny sample of four that have responded to me, we are all heavy users. Just as I theorized back in June 2014 when Facebook shut down for me for 69 hours, some of us have reached a limit on their servers.
   Boffins, and Facebook, say that that’s impossible, but there have been countless signs of that over the years. Most were recorded on Get Satisfaction before Facebook shut down that community (how convenient). Among them were things such as Facebook being unable to show me every video I had uploaded—the list began at 2011 and earlier ones were omitted—and the many occasions where I could no longer post, comment, like or share. There’s a direct parallel to my experiences on the former Vox.com, which Six Apart confirmed in 2009 and which they had no official answer for.
   What’s the best course of action if Facebook accuses you of malware and forces you to download one of their programs from Trend Micro, F-Secure or Kaspersky? Delete your cookies. Once you do that, you can regain access, though, like me, you’ll have a limited account where link-sharing is impossible. Initially, I was able to share a few links after my accessing Facebook, but it eventually became a blanket block, with the odd one getting through (two a day in my case).
   If you want to be extra-safe, run the free version of Malware Bytes. The free one won’t conflict with your existing antivirus set-up (I’m not trying to do Malware Bytes out of money), but, like the rest of us, you’ll likely discover that your system is clean.
   One woman got around this by downloading a new browser, although she was also limited on the link-posting.
   Whatever you do, do not listen to these big firms. Facebook, Google et al are, as I’ve been documenting over the years, particularly deceptive. I’ve still had to deal with the remnants of Facebook’s scan switching off McAfee, nearly two days later.
   Facebook’s apparently had many complaints about this since 2014, so I’m hardly the first to encounter it. Blaming malware for their own databasing issues is cheap, but enough people will believe it—even with my mistrust of these big Silicon Valley firms I still did their malware scan, not thinking I had a choice if I wanted to access the site again. What it really did during the scan is anyone’s guess.
   I’d rather they come clean and tell people: you are allowed x posts a day, x links a day, and x photos and videos a day. I can work around that. But if they came clean about this and the number of click-farm workers and bots plaguing the site, what will that do to their share price?
   And isn’t it ironic I can presently share more, and have more freedom of speech, on Weibo, monitored by the Chinese Communist Party?

PS.: As of the last week of April, I have had two reports that deleting cookies does not work, but switching browsers does. Facebook appears to find a way to identify you, your regular browser and your IP address together, without cookies.

P.PS.: Mid-May, and from my other thread on this topic, in the post-postscripts: ‘Andrew McPherson was hit with this more recently, with Facebook blocking the cookie-deleting method in some cases, and advises, “If you get this, you will need to change your Facebook password to something very long (a phrase will do), delete and clear your browsers cache and history, then delete your browser, then renew your IP address to a different number and then reinstall your browsers.” If you cannot change your IP address but are using a router, then he suggests refreshing the address on that. Basically, Facebook is making it harder and harder for us to work around their bug. Once again, if you sign on using a different account using the same “infected” computer, there are no problems—which means the finger of blame should remain squarely pointed at Facebook.’

P.P.PS.: June 17: as detailed at my other post, for those who might find Andrew’s method too technical, the current wisdom is to wait it out. It does appear to take days, however. Reminds me of the time Facebook stopped working for me for 69 hours in 2014. Do not download Facebook’s crap.

P.P.P.PS.: November 30: it appears waiting it out is the best option for those who don’t want to mess around under the bonnet. Shawn Picker, in the comments, says to expect a five-day wait.

P.P.P.P.PS.: May 9, 2017: On the other post on this subject on my blog, a user called David suggested modifying your headers and to fool Facebook into thinking you are using another type of device. In comment no. 66 below, Stephan confirms that it works and gives more details about it. Check it out!

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Filed under: China, internet, technology, USA—Jack Yan @ 23.46

225 Responses to ‘If Facebook says you have malware, do not download their program—here’s a way around it’

  1. Karen L Tolfree says:

    Michelle, me too! It’s not that the games are slower, its like the computer is always thinking. It’s heated up twice where it turned itself off. I’ve run virus and malware and there’s nothing there.

  2. Jack Yan says:

    Karen, I wonder if there are additional Facebook processes now running from the Windows 10 app. Are you able to look at your Task Manager and see if there’s anything from Facebook there? Though I suspect they will have buried anything deep inside the computer as they did with the “malware scanner” on mine.

  3. Karen L Tolfree says:

    Morning Jack, I just looked and the only thing running with Facebook is the gameroom. That never went out when FB wouldn’t let me sign in. Wierd, but now I can install a Windows 10 upgrade, it shuts the computer off and when I turn in back on, it tells me it’s restoring my previous version of Windows. The upgrade was 1703. I spoke to Microsoft and they said it wasn’t compatible with my computer, because its 3 years old. That really doesn’t make sense to me. So for the past 3 days, it takes me more than one hour to get the computer running because when I turn it off at night it downloads the latest version of Windows, and when I turn it back on in the morning it says working on upgrades. What a mess, just a new way for me to buy a computer. Frustrating.

  4. Jack Yan says:

    Interesting, Karen, I never played games on Facebook so it’s not one I’m familiar with. But my thinking is that nothing from Facebook should be running if you hadn’t loaded it up.
       The Windows 10 upgrade process is terrible, though we can point our collective fingers there at Microsoft for releasing a lemon. I have a laptop that was basically on factory settings, and it will not upgrade from the original Windows 10 from two years ago (after over 35 attempts). I have seen brand-new machines at computer shops that have failed to upgrade—and they didn’t even have anything installed apart from the standard stuff! They would be no more than months old.
       Windows bricked the computer I am typing to you on now, and it had to go to the shop for repairs just so I could turn it on. All told, this one needed 11 attempts—I said it was called Windows 10 because upgrading takes more than 10 goes. But I went through exactly what you are describing now.
       Therefore, three years is not old, even with the pace of technology if there are new machines at shops that this upgrade is incompatible. The Microsoft rep is lying to you.
       What appeared to have worked on my computer was removing the antivirus completely. However, I tried this on around the seventh attempt and it didn’t work. It only worked on the 11th. Once it upgraded, I instantly put the program back on.
       Now this has happened to you, I wonder if the Facebook stuff messed things up under the hood. There’ll be a Windows 10 forum somewhere where someone has had exactly the same issue though. I went to the Microsoft one and there were plenty; however, the advice from Microsoft techs is usually poor, and you have to be there for a long time to find a good one who gives you real advice and not copy-and-paste solutions.

  5. Karen L Tolfree says:

    I agree, and hate turning off the computer as it will take 90 minutes to start up when I turn it on. Also, the Microsoft rep said, “they will not be charging be for the help.” Too bad their help didn’t work at all. I got in touch with them 2 times and nothing worked. The second rep told me it was my computer. The upgrade that can’t be installed is 1703. We as consumers can do absolutely nothing about how these upgrades are destroying out circuitry.

  6. Jack Yan says:

    Jennifer, it really seems this Facebook forced download is hitting people regardless of their use of the site (heavy or light, political or apolitical, left or right). I hope you are back in there and that you didn’t have to download their program. Also, see if you can try altering your headers (it’s in one of the comments), though it hasn’t worked universally.

  7. Jack Yan says:

    Hi Karen, the help on the Microsoft forums is generally poor, though I haven’t tried calling them. My most recent one was about Cortana unable to do currency conversions. Their suggestion was to reset Windows (that’s where you lose all your programs). I explained that the bug happens with all computers, not just mine, and asked why resetting mine would fix this. They dodge the hard questions and keep copying and pasting stuff that does not work. I imagine the phone people work off the same script. I think it is possible to file suit—a woman in the US did that when Windows 10 was forced on her and disrupted her business because of all its bugs—though for most of us it’s probably easier to stay away from the lawyers.
       Do you have a very computer-savvy friend who could help with a friendly rate? I understand you can upgrade using a USB and a few other methods, but I have never looked into them in any depth.

  8. Karen L Tolfree says:

    Hi Jack, this morning turned on the computer and no installation notice but a NEW icon on my desktop Windows 10 Media. It wasn’t there last night, magically appeared this morning. Well, I click it and at the moment as I write this it is creating Windows 10 media and its only at 20% and it says “Feel free to use your computer.” I can’t help but wonder if Microsoft is following our conversations on your blog. Will let you know what happens if it installs correctly. Realize its nighttime in NZ, but have a great day.

  9. Jack Yan says:

    Hi Karen, Microsoft does have some level of monitoring up since Windows 10 was launched and you have to go into the settings to turn them off (whereas I think they should be turned off by default and we get asked to turn them on). How did things go overnight with your PC?

  10. Karen L Tolfree says:

    Morning Jack, it’s not showing the update your computer anymore. Seems to be okay, will now have to go knock on wood. I wonder if the others who posted previously on here have had any problems with Windows and if they’ve gotten back on Facebook. Have a good day.

  11. Roberta Perez says:

    Hi Jack,
    I am experiencing this hell now but only on Chrome I guess because
    I use it all the time. I can use FB on Firefox and Explorer Edge
    but they are so slow,that is why I use Chrome. I can’t log on at
    all unless I download their “cleaner”. Here is what they are telling me :Let’s Check Your Device for Malicious Software
    Hi Roberta, we’re continuously working to keep your account secure. We’ve noticed that this device may be infected with malicious software. To continue to use Facebook, you can either use other devices or clean this device by downloading the scanner provided by Facebook and Trend Micro.
    I wish it would go away but no such luck.
    Thanks for whatever help you can give me.

  12. Jack Yan says:

    Thank you for your comment, Roberta—if you want a fast browser, Brave is probably the quickest out there, but it has very few extensions compared with Chrome. But if extensions don’t matter then maybe downloading that and using it will get round this problem. I take it you’ve tried deleting your cookies (note this could also delete your passwords or existing access to sites and you will have to feed in your log-in details again)? If you must use Chrome, one of the comments discusses how to modify your headers—some people have not tried this as it looks too technical but it appears to be the most reliable way to bypass Facebook’s demand that you download its questionable software.

  13. Jack Yan says:

    Thank goodness, Karen, I hope everything has settled down with Windows. I seem to recall when I was going through this that the update attempt will recur in about a month. I know there are dozens of complaints on the Microsoft forums about the updates, though none about Facebook’s questionable activities.

  14. Karen L Tolfree says:

    Roberta, don’t let FB scan your computer. After a month, I could get on it, but now they block my posts and the excuse is “it looks like spam.”
    Once again, everything they blocked is from others, sent to me, but lean towards the right. They will post lies and ‘fake’ news from the left, but if you don’t agree with them they manage to get you.

  15. TommyD says:

    Just got the same notice. About five minutes before, I tried posting a link, as a comment, on someone’s post. FB refused to let me post the link, saying it may be unsafe. Just theorizing that this is what triggered my “invitation” to download their scanner.

    Guess I’ll wait it out.

  16. Jack Yan says:

    This is interesting, in light of Kaspersky deleting my questions about their dodgy collaboration with Facebook, and trying to put hidden software on our computers: http://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/10/technology/kaspersky-lab-israel-russia-hacking.html. I issued a press release this week dealing with this topic, too, but so far most media have ignored it.

  17. Jack Yan says:

    Tommy, it’s very likely that’s what happened. And yet these links are usually safe. When it hit me, Facebook wouldn’t let me post links to McAfee. If you need to get on sooner, there are a couple of techniques posted earlier, but they do require some technical expertise.

  18. Jack Yan says:

    Thank you, Karen—I think this supports the theory that the databases are buggy as heck. I’ve heard from one friend in Germany who cannot work with Instagram properly today. It’s been OK here. It’ll be related to what you and I have experienced, I believe, but on a far wider scale. And these bugs will keep increasing in frequency.

  19. Karen L Tolfree says:

    When I think of it, it’s really sad that we as “intelligent” human beings are so addicted to all of the social media out there. My FB time has decreased significantly since I first wrote you. I don’t have Instagram or Twitter, and from I’ve seen with others it’s like being hooked on heroin or cocaine. They can’t stop.

  20. Sandy Anderson says:

    Referring to Karen’s article, I had a few minutes of outage on Facebook yesterday. Of course because of my experiences this summer, I was afraid I was going to get the dreaded “malware message” again though it didn’t start out the same — just a white screen.
    I shut it off for a while and then went back and checked and all was well. Either just my FB server down or perhaps part of this worldwide thing that Karen’s article described.

  21. Victoria Teunissen says:

    Add me to the list of folks that are steaming cuz they cant get on facebook till we allow facebook to scan our computers for ‘malware’. The invasion of privacy is ridiculous. How is it they have been getting away with this for so long? It has been 6 days and I am locked out on the desktop version. I can access through my phone still but who knows how long that will stay up?

  22. Jack Yan says:

    I wish I knew why this hasn’t been investigated, Victoria, and why it isn’t all over the media. Looking back, Facebook has been doing this “scanner” for many years and there has not been a single article looking in to what exactly it does. What we do know is that what Facebook claims it is, and what it actually is, are two different things, since so many of us have shown that these computers are not infected with malware. I issued a press release earlier this month and only one media outlet ran it. Yet Kaspersky is embroiled in US media stories about spying. You’d think it would be timely, but evidently the media don’t.

  23. Karen L Tolfree says:

    Victoria, whatever you do, do not let Facebook scan your computer. A notice should go out to everyone on Facebook about this. It will come back, mine took over a month. I was able to access FB through Edge, but really enjoyed the time away from it. Now I don’t go on it much. The notifications come and if you play games you can access them through Facebook gameroom.

  24. wayne dolly says:

    My wife had the problem with being locked out and needed to use facebook scan instead I found that her short cut and bookmark for facebook had been changed so I just told her to type in http://www.facebook.com and it let her in with bo problem

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