The heart-wrenching photo of a sick baby on your Facebook feed could be a scam, according to a group of five fraud-detecting websites. They posted their second open letter to Facebook on Tuesday, asking the social network to better regulate "sick baby" scams on Facebook.
Sick baby photos are taken from medical journals or old news stories and can be shared on Facebook up to 600,000 times, according to the report. Often the photos are accompanied with the message that Facebook will donate money for every share, but this is false. The fake donation encourages users to unknowingly perpetuate these malicious scams. The scams make people vulnerable to becoming the target of theft.
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Unfortunately, the number of these "sick baby" scrams is on the rise. According to stats from one of the anti-scamming sites involved in the open letter, there are 325 baby scams on Facebook as of Wednesday. For every fake sick baby photo removed, 22 are uploaded in its place.
The group created an online petition asking Facebook to remove baby charity scam photos. As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition has more than 500 signatures.
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The first open letter from the group was sent to Facebook in February.
"These photos should be removed, all of them, much faster, more efficiently and repeat occurrences should be blocked by the implementation of a simple image detection system," demanded the February letter.
Shortly after the letter was published, Facebook removed a number of the "sick baby" photos from Facebook, but critics say it didn't act fast enough.
Several stipulations written in Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities would clearly disallow scamming users with fake sick baby charities on the site. The deceptive ploys would even be illegal if scammers collect money from users for the fake charities.
Representatives from Facebook haven't responded to Mashable's request for comment.
Have you seen any of these "sick baby" scams? Do you know anyone who's been duped into donating? Tell us in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.