“Your Page was flagged because your post(s) linked to domain_placeholder.com.” — an email I got last night.

Um…yeah. Sure. That’s not a valid domain name.

The message showed up less than an hour after I logged into Facebook for the first time in weeks, and it does appear to actually be from Facebook and not a phish.

But I don’t see any indication in Facebook’s website that the page in question has been flagged for anything, much less “sharing, distributing or promoting content inauthentically.” (In other words, selling links. Which I don’t do anyway.) I haven’t clicked on the tracked links just in case it is a phish, but there’s a link to submit an appeal that goes to a non-tracked Facebook Help page…which is a 404.

Searching for domain_placeholder.com on Facebook and Twitter turned up other people reacting to similar messages they got last night…and nothing older.

I’m confident it’s bogus, and I suspect it was sent out accidentally. Maybe someone at Facebook is testing a new email template, and accidentally sent it to a real subset of users on a real mail server.

Update (4/18): The Facebook Help page linked in the message now contains the following statement:

No action required

You may have received an email that we sent out in error, and your Page may not have violated the Pages Policy on restrictions around sharing, distributing or promoting content inauthentically. Please ignore the email you received on 04/15/2019.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

So it looks like it was what I expected: a test message sent out by mistake.

Update (4/19): Four days later, Facebook finally sent me a follow-up email saying, “We sent you an email by mistake.”

We don’t have personal jet packs or flying cars, but we do have spam advertising remote-controlled robot birds that we can buy from shady online retailers to entertain our cats.

“My cat is obssessed with this pigeon-shaped drone” and so on…

I’m not opposed to relevant guest posts on a topic-based blog, but when it’s obvious that they didn’t even look at the site and are just robo-spamming blogs that maybe matched a keyword or something…?

I mean, stuff like this:

“I read your article https://speedforce.org/2017/11/crisis-earth-x-conclusion-review/. Your readers might be interested in checking out our resources on machine learning and AI.”


I can’t imagine enough people would bite for them to get their link-backs and up their page rank, but then spam has always been a scattershot approach.

@mrennen@mastodon.social suggested that even if the technique isn’t effective anymore, spammers might be selling the “service” of getting linkbacks to gullible sites that want the exposure.

Could be. There always has been a strong overlap between spammers and scammers.

I received a scam email claiming to be from the IMF, all about who to contact if you fell for an advance fee fraud scam claiming to be from the IMF. All you have to do to get your money back is send your info and $150 to Barrister so-and-so to set up an account, just contact this GMail address…