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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!

Related posts

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

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

  1. Betty says:

    It is not a malware issue. They want to install their spyware for data mining purposes, to track you, & probably have their paying clients meddle in your machine. You may be able to get in with another machine if they already have data mining apps already in them, or they are not interested in tracking that device.

    FB is free. How do you think the owner became a billionaire? With ad blockers, they’re really not making that kind of money on ads.

    Data mining/spying for corporations, advertisers, & big brother is big bossiness & big money these days. That’s why Windows 10 was free — so most computer users can be tracked & spied on. They’ve even went as far as to inject their spyware on other versions of widows, or force W10 upgrades through their updates so everyone gets tagged & tracked.

    In my case 4 PCs, 3 laptops, 2 android tablets, & my Samsung phone were blocked from my personal account. I hardly believe all those devices, some in different locations were infected. Yet, on all those devices we able to get into 2 work FB accounts, my old roommate’s FB account, & a friend’s FB accounts with no problems. If they detected malware, why is it not detected while logging into other FB accounts on the same devices?

    There’s a 95% chance you are not infected with any malware tha FB noticed. Even if you were, there’s a very good chance FB would not detect it.. IT”S ALL BS!

    You are blocking their malware/spyware, ads, or their spyware is not functioning, so they need to install something else so their clients (corporations, advertisers, & governments) can spy on you.

    After allowing their “scan” app to install, I was able to to get into my personal account with all 9 devices. How could a “scan” on 1 fix all 9 independent devices — some on different ISPs/internet connections?

    I was smart though. I created a “system restore” point before I let their scan app install. Then removed all traces of the app, & restored to the restore point from before it was installed to be sure.

    My computer & internet knowledge is above average. If I had malware on my machine, I would definitely know about it. I’ve been fixing & building computers since 1980. Been online since the beginning of the internet, & on the usenet (newsgroups) since 1981 (before the internet we have the usenet).

    I’m not a noob. This is just a typical & very common ploy to get into your machines used by hackers & malware makers, If they can’t get in be traditional means, or if you’re too controversial so they feel you must need to be tracked more closely they want to install their malware under the disguise as a ma;lware scan. Hackers & malware pros use this same method to break into your stuff. They offer to do malware scans, fix, or speed up your machine for free, but install their own spyware or malware instead, & usually make it worse.

  2. Elizabeth Elgin says:

    I am ISO of answers and yours seems trustworthy. I have been blocked and although the message I get from FB says I can use FB in READ ONLY mode, no I can’t. I can’t log in. When I DID download their Trendmicro scanner my Symantec protection immediately quarantined it and said it was probably unsafe so I removed it. So now what? FB doesn’t have any way to contact them to help if you are not logged in.

  3. Jack Yan says:

    Since April 2016, the wisdom seems to be to wait. Symantec is right: what Facebook offers is spyware and harmful to your computer. I know that’s not what you wanted to hear but Facebook will never respond, even if you are logged in. The average waiting time seems to be three days, though I have heard of people out for longer.
       You could try clearing your cookies or trying another browser, though these methods haven’t worked particularly well since April, when Facebook blocked them. The block confirms to me that they are forcing these downloads on to people.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you. Will wait and see.Freaky.

  5. Juanita Hundt says:

    Thanks for this article – wish I’d looked it up BEFORE I, in a panic, hit the “download” button. I came to my senses before I ran the program, but it’s been days and I still don’t have access. I switched from Chrome to Firefox & was able to use FB there, but I am on a different computer now & can’t open FB on either. Will try to delete cookies (as soon as I figure out how! Have to google that!). It’s been nearly a week blocked now.

  6. Jack Yan says:

    Hi Juanita, I can’t remember quite how the download procedure worked (as this happened to me in January 2016) but if you can locate the file and delete it, that could be a good first step. See how you go deleting cookies, though in some cases Facebook began blocking this method in April 2016. But it would definitely be something I’d do next—there will be pages on how to do that for both Chrome and Firefox.
       I have another post here where there have been over 100 comments, and you might be able to find something in there that works, too. Some of the last suggestions on there look pretty good (see the one from David) though they require a bit of technical knowledge.

  7. Ginny LeRette says:

    It has been over a week but I still cannot sign into my Facebook page. Do you have any new information on this particular problem? Did some people have longer wait times?
    Thank you for any information you can provide.

  8. Jack Yan says:

    Ginny, I have heard about some longer wait times though they are the minority. There are more comments at this other thread on my blog, and one of the suggestions there from David (to fake your headers and pretend you’re using a Mac—I think it’s comment no. 103) looks pretty good, though it is slightly technical. If you can, give his one a go and see if that works—I use Firefox and have a plug-in called Modify Headers which allows me to pretend I’m using another type of computer. I’m sure there’s an equivalent for Chrome, if that’s the browser you’re using.

  9. Max Embers says:

    Thank you for this blog. I’m going to wait it out to see what happens. I even tried accessing my site through Tor and it doesn’t work. Recently, I accessed my FB account from work through their server and I do tend to post controversial articles now and then; but who doesn’t? And almost everything is politicized including kittens and puppies!

    I have started using twitter because it is a better way to stay connected to my family. And I was considering leaving FB anyway . . . this action works as a confirmation.

  10. Angel says:

    I to am getting this error where I cant access facebook on my computer but i can get it on my phone, I can access my son and my husbands account on my computer though,

    I have McAfee and Malewarebytes on my computer as well and they say no virus is found, I have deleted ALL cookies and reset my browsers, I have even uninstalled and re-installed chrome, i posted a link on my facebook before i was blocked and if i use my husbands account to block it they wont let it and say that the link contains a malicious source.

  11. Veronica says:

    I just got booted from a game I was playing on facebook with the message that I wasn’t logged on. When I refreshed the page it wanted me to login to facebook, and being the suspicious person that I am, refreshed again and that’s when I got a message to say I had possible malware. I immediately ran Norton to do a quick scan and all was clear.Thank goodness I didn’t download their scan program. Google time was next to see if facebook indeed asks for scan programs to be downloaded – like I said I’m cautious and suspicious – quite a few of my friends have been hacked by so called ‘facebook security’ asking them to login – and we have all learned that they are just hackers preying on people who panic and login with their passwords and their accounts are hacked.

    Thank you for your article – it just confirms that we should all check before just downloading a program when told to do so.

    Interesting thing is, I use Chrome to play facebook games – less issues and plugin crashes, BUT at the same time I have Firefox running WITH facebook so that when friends and family post something I just switch browsers without having to switch tabs – Chrome is slow with tab switching and needs to download the page everytime – I’ve done this for years running 2 browsers with facebook. The Chrome one came up with the malware message and the need to login and downloads the program yet I can still use facebook on Firefox where I’m NOT getting the message – INTERESTING. One would think if I had malware on my system then I would have it on all browsers – hmmmmmmmmm

  12. Yep…I’ve been blocked as well. I’m not downloading squat from Facebook! Thanks for the post. It was very informative.

  13. Miles says:

    It just recently happened to me. And my PC is also clean. I’m not going to download anything. Also I am getting kind of fed up with Facebook and the fact they can just close your account down anytime they want without giving any real specific reason. And their support is terrible too.

    I think it’s time to move onto other social media platforms and start building up there myself. My next one after Facebook is ADZbuzz still in beta but I think it will be booming one day. I also shared your this article there. As it is a content discovery social media platform so it is designed to give content more exposure.

  14. Travey stevens says:

    Just happened to me two days ago…It says I have 4 hoirs left…We will see…My other account however has no problem sharing from the same device

  15. Jack Yan says:

    Tracey, just make sure you delete the program from your computer ASAP, otherwise, if I am right, it will keep snooping on you.

  16. Stephan says:

    I followed David’s advice and installed the Modify Header extension. But you need to know what to do with it! :p Luckily on his site there is a “getStarted” link (http://www.garethhunt.com/modifyheaders/help/quickstart/).

    I used it to see you need to make it work. Basically:
    – Click on the icon in Firefox, select Open ModifyHeaders
    – Choose the Headers tab
    – Under the Select Actions button, choose Modify,
    – Type User-Agent in the first box,
    – Copy the right code for the User-Agent you wish your browser to emulate (on his site he makes a web site think you are on an IPhone)
    – Click the Add button

    Now this will make your Firefox look and feel like an IPhone. This can be weird but it WILL get you into Facebook!

    I did a search to find other User Agent code and found this site: https://udger.com/resources/ua-list on which I found the user-agent code. I used the one for Safari and boom, it worked too!!!

    Even more good news!

    I did a search in Chrome’s extensions and found this: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/modify-headers-for-google/innpjfdalfhpcoinfnehdnbkglpmogdi?hl=en-US

    It’s a “Modify Headers” for Chrome and I tried the same thing: Typed User Agent and added the code for Safari and BAM I can also access Facebook on Chrome!

    Wow. Thanks David and good luck everyone! :)

  17. Jack Yan says:

    That is awesome, Stephan, thank you for confirming that it works and for posting the Safari and Chrome extensions, too!

  18. […] May 9: Stephan, on my other thread on this topic (comment no. 66), confirms that David’s solution worked and has posted a few more details, including extensions […]

  19. Craig says:

    So I just got hit with this today. On my work computer… I still have access to FB on my phone. I’ll check tonight if I have access via my home PC. I have a suspicion that they are targeting those who are running AD-BLOCK apps in Chrome. No ads = no ad revenue for The Zuk! Can anyone verify?

  20. Jack Yan says:

    Hi Craig, I don’t run any ad-blocking software and I use Firefox, so that won’t be the reason. But keep us posted on what you find out when you get home. Also, are you a heavy user? That was one thing a lot of users had in common.

  21. Craig says:

    Thanks for the add…
    No. Not a “heavy user”. I may post 2-10 posts a day, depending. Mostly text and/or photo posts.

  22. Jack Yan says:

    My pleasure. The other theory is that we’ve visited or shared sites that Facebook deems (usually incorrectly) as malware. When I got blocked the first time, it was after (ironically) I used the Facebook messaging plug-in on another site. From memory it was Down Detector, which tracked whether Facebook was down for users—they definitely don’t like bad news about them being shared!

  23. Jill says:

    I just got hit with this last week. I got around it at first by switching from Chrome to I/E but now I can’t log into I/E either. It’s on my work computer so I know it’s secure and I can’t download their software anyway, since only an administrator can do that.

    So now what? I just can’t ever get on Facebook on a work computer now? I use it personally but also use it when doing a search on potential new hires.

  24. Jack Yan says:

    Jill, my advice is to wait it out—this is definitely something Facebook is doing, and I have theorized for over a year that it’s their databases failing, and their needing to find an excuse to slow down certain accounts.

  25. Jill Britton says:

    Thanks. Actually I logged in today and it’s back to normal.

  26. Jack Yan says:

    Thank you for letting me know, Jill—I’m glad it’s back to normal and that you didn’t download their malware.

  27. Jill Britton says:

    I couldn’t have downloaded it even if I wanted to. It was a work computer. I did call our IT/Cyber Security department though and he had never heard of such a problem before. We did run a full scan and found no malware. That was one day last week and when I came into work yesterday, it was fine. It was annoying since I couldn’t log on from my personal phone for awhile there either, but I guess the moral of the story is don’t download anything and if you wait long enough, the problem takes care of itself.

  28. Victor says:

    I’m an author. As such, I have two facebook accounts, one on each of two email addresses. One got blocked, the other didn’t. When you scan, with their, highly invasive, software, it searches out everything on your computer and sends it to Facebook. This should be illegal, and the program banned from distribution. My system has some external drives, and I simply disconnected them, to keep the Priests at the Holy Shrine of FB from getting into my private stuff. I’ve got MS that are proprietary, and Facebook is not welcome to peruse them, thank you very much. I don’t even let my publisher see things I’m not ready to release, why the heck, (or that other word) would I allow the morons from ‘Mark’s Land’ access to them? I am firmly convinced that Malware is simply an excuse for Facebook wanting to scan the computers of all their users, and look for anything they might be able to exploit. Your advice to avoid their ‘proprietary’ program is excellent, and if they try to make me run that thing again, I’ll leave Facebook, and try to get support for a class action suit to shut the thing down, worldwide. Another service will rise to fill the vacuum, and probably within days.

  29. Pendaws says:

    I just experienced this rubbish today and I REFUSE to download their spyware and so, I will just have to forget Facebook and try something else. I have Avast AV and Malwarebytes on my system and neither shows ANY issue so, thanks Facebook, you are sure on your way to having just leftys, millennials and all the other weirdos.

  30. Jack Yan says:

    There are some solutions posted in this thread, but I can definitely say that Facebook’s false accusations aren’t politically motivated. People on the left and right and of all ages have been hit with this.

  31. Jack Yan says:

    Victor, if you ever commence that lawsuit, there are over 100 potential plaintiffs on this comment thread who’ll be interested to join you. One big thing preventing me from doing so is jurisdiction, but if you’re Stateside, I’d encourage you to. At the very least during discovery we can find out what this malware contains and what it sends back to Facebook (since it takes hours to run, during which time details of your computer can be sent back to them, and on to other parties). What gets me is that there has been no coverage of this in the tech press, yet it’s potentially one of the biggest stories on Facebook out there. Even if their malware doesn’t send stuff anywhere, what is it masking? Most people who took my advice to not download their crap waited it out and got back online, so at the very least Facebook is lying to its users constantly. I have a very real suspicion Facebook’s databases are dying, and the malware download is an excuse for certain people to slow down posting while they fix things. I’m willing to bet, Victor, that of your two email accounts, the busier one got blocked.

  32. Chuck Newman says:

    about two weeks ago this problem started with me. It first advised downloading Kaspersky, and has recently switched to ESET. I was using Chrome.
    I switched to my FireFox browser. Within a day, Facebook did the same, refusing to let me in until I used Kaspersky. The both say ESET now.

    I’ve switched to Opera and FB is operating fine so far.
    I cleaned out my cookies in Chrome as you suggested and that did no good.
    Let me know if there’s something else to try to get Chrome (and FireFox) to free up Facebook again, please.
    Thanks, Chuck Newman, Lakeview, AR

  33. Jack Yan says:

    Chuck, as mentioned in the post, Facebook blocked the cookie method in April 2016. Please look at the last postscript in the post and comment no. 66 on this thread for an additional solution and see if that works. Whatever you do, do not download their malware.

  34. Stephanie DM says:

    Well here it is 06/07/2017 and I’m in the same boat… I tried what Stephan said and I’m up… I’m on Chrome … looks like crap… I’m also one that can use on my windows phone… use other accts but not my original …. I was wondering how many used there telephone number or is using messenger???
    Hoping to get back to my original soon…
    Facebook… you naughty lil thing…..

  35. Jack Yan says:

    I can only speak for myself, Stephanie, and I am not using Messenger. I also gave Facebook a fake phone number (well, an old one for a prepaid SIM card in Sweden).

  36. Craig says:

    Looks like a month in “Facebook Jail” was the time-out period. I can report that after exactly one month, this computer is now allowed to rejoin the Facebook general population.

  37. Mr Imran says:

    I am still unable to login to my Facebook from my office Computer (other accounts login successful)while I tried to clean cookies and some other stuff but in vain.They are forcing to download that so called “Malware Scanner”.So any suggestions how can I fix it without downloading this Piece of ****??

  38. Jack Yan says:

    Have you checked out Stefan’s suggestion above? So far this looks like the best method other than waiting it out while Facebook (presumably) repairs a broken database.

  39. Tonya says:

    Each time I clean my cookies I get blocked from posting on facebook and in so cases it last for a whole week, i’m just thinking about leaving facebook alone all together.

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