Facebook's Get-Rich-Quick SchemeS

"Once every hundred years, media changes," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in 2007, predicting a sea change in online advertising. The reality: His social network is leading the way in online scams.

The Sydney Morning Herald caught Facebook redhanded running bogus ads for make-money-on-Google programs and other schemes. (Even Google says they're fraudulent.) The company's response: The ads are isolated incidents which go offline as soon as users report the scams.

Facebook's Get-Rich-Quick SchemeS

If only that were true. As the Morning Herald found, the same ads keep appearing. According to Online Scams Exposed, a blog devoted to ferreting out fraudulent ads, the reason why they're showing up is a deliberate policy shift by Facebook.

The previously banned ad categories now allowed include:

* "Work-at-Home" Scams
* "Free Trial" Diet Products that bill your credit card well before the trial period ends, then refuse to let you cancel
* "Free Federal Grant Money" rackets where you pay get a list of 'secret' free grant programs (no such thing as a free lunch)
* "Free Ringtone" subscription services (The Florida Attorney General's Office had a field day with this one)
* "Free IQ Surveys" that feed you a bunch of easily answered questions before you are required to pay to see the results.
* "Cash4Gold" Programs encouraging you to shove your jewelery in an envelope and mail it in for a third of its actual value

Facebook's Get-Rich-Quick SchemeS


Why would Facebook allow online scams to run on its site? The reason is obvious: It is losing money with every user it adds. Zuckerberg's creation constantly needs more servers to accommodate its growth, and revenues are not keeping pace.

So instead of delivering on Zuckerberg's 100-year change, Facebook executives are lowering their standards and letting online con artists prey on their users. It may provide a temporary boost to revenues, and allow Zuckerberg to realize his own get-rich-quick scheme. And it may be a transformative move in the world of media — just not one anyone will applaud.

(Photo of Zuckerberg by AP; photos of scam ads via Sydney Morning Herald and Online Scams Exposed)