The post promising free plane tickets from Southwest Airlines is a classic example of a social media giveaway scam called “like-farming.”
A post that promises two free, roundtrip plane tickets from Southwest Airlines is making the rounds on Facebook.
VERIFY was unable to find the original post, but it appears to have originated from a page called “Southwest Air Fans” based on screenshots shared by other Facebook users.
“We’ve decided to celebrate our 69th anniversary by giving 2 round-trip tickets to everyone who types (Done) by 5pm Sunday,” one version of the post reads.
Another post that VERIFY found from the Southwest Air Fans page asked people to fill out a survey in order to receive free plane tickets.
This has led people to search on Google whether Southwest Airlines is really giving away free plane tickets.
Is Southwest Airlines giving away free roundtrip plane tickets for its anniversary?
No, Southwest Airlines isn’t giving away free roundtrip plane tickets for its anniversary.
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WHAT WE FOUND
Southwest Airlines debunked the rumor in a post on its legitimate Facebook page, calling the free ticket giveaway a scam.
“Many of you may have seen this post from a fake account claiming to offer two roundtrip tickets. While we like great flight deals as much as the next airline, this one is unfortunately not real, and wasn’t posted by Southwest Airlines,” the post reads.
It’s also worth noting that Southwest Airlines is celebrating its 51st anniversary this year, not its 69th, as the airline was founded in 1971.
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The posts from the fake “Southwest Air Fans” page are classic examples of common social media giveaway scams. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says this technique is called “like-farming” and has several different aims.
When a scammer collects enough likes and shares, they will sometimes edit the post and add something malicious like a link to malware, according to the BBB. Other times, scammers will “strip the page’s original content and use it to promote spammy products.”
Facebook also urges users to look for the blue checkmark next to a large company’s name to verify that posts are coming from an authentic account.
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The BBB shared more red flags to watch for when you see a social media giveaway.
New accounts with very little other content apart from the giveaway, spelling and grammar errors, and a lack of terms and conditions from the giveaway organizer are often signs of a scam.
This isn’t the first time Southwest Airlines customers have been the target of a social media ticket giveaway scam. Southwest posted on Facebook about a similar scam in 2013, which promised to give away 70 plane tickets to Las Vegas.
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