This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Email used to be the prime haven for hackers. Now they’re targeting social media. Facebook users in particular need to be on the look out for scams and spam that could put their identity at risk. 

Researchers at U.C. Riverside recently studied the Facebook pages of 12,000 users for four months. Nearly half of them were exposed to something called “social malware” or “socware” for short.

It’s the sharable, viral nature of social networks that makes them especially vulnerable, according to one of the researchers. “On social networks, it’s being distributed by friends,” Harsha Madhyastha professor at the University of California, Riverside explained, “If your friend says, ‘Hey there’s a cool deal out there for a free iPad!’ you are more likely to believe it.”

To protect yourself and avoid infecting your computer or accounts with malware, pay close attention to how posts are crafted. Look out for keywords like Wow, Free, OMG and Deal! Those are often ploys to attract a user’s attention.

Avoid clicking on any offers that boast big savings for “freebies.” Often these will “send you to an external website or maybe another Facebook page” where you have to fill out a form with personal information.

To help social users protect their identities, University of California, Riverside researchers crafted a tool called MyPageKeeper. You can learn more about the app here.

Watch WHNT News 19 at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14th for more information from Michelle Stark on how protect yourself on social sites.