Sports Column: Beware of spam links to “free” soccer live streams
Published Sunday 20 November 2022 at 8:00 am
A plague is spreading across the social media landscape. A pox on our homes clogging comment areas all over this great country.
No, not Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter and its unfolding implosion.
I’m talking about the scourge of spam links to fake high school sporting events streaming websites.
If you’re at all active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, you’ve probably already seen them. They can usually be found in the comments section of sports reports published by media outlets and may even appear to come from ordinary people.
The links purport to take you to a free live stream of the game the story is about, but in reality it will melt your computer faster than an ice cube on a summertime Mississippi sidewalk.
The links are a phishing scam that asks you to sign up for live streams that don’t exist, providing credit card or personal information.
These can be difficult to identify, and easy to absent-mindedly click on one of them. They have flashy graphics, the name of the game you want, and might even appear to be sending you to a website that resembles a legitimate TV show. One that surfaced in the comments section of the Vicksburg Post on Friday had “FoxSport4HD” in the web address, which sounds similar to “Fox Sports.”
These scams have exploded in recent years as more and more high school sporting events are streamed across various online platforms.
We’re deleting them and blocking users from The Post’s social media pages as soon as we spot them, but they often appear and reappear faster than we can turn them all off. Other outlets may not be as diligent.
So the best way to deal with them is to learn how to recognize and avoid them, and know what livestream channels your favorite schools are using.
A comment with bad grammar or an overabundance of graphics and emojis is a character. Another is a generic, non-descriptive logo attached to the link.
When you scroll YouTube, you are looking at the length of a video. Games are a few hours long. If the stream you’re looking for only lasts a few minutes, it’s probably just a looping jingle and logo and not an actual event. If you’re looking at a school’s current channel, you should also see previous available events, which is an indication you’re in the right place.
Many Mississippi schools — including Warren Central and Vicksburg High — have partnered with the subscription-based NFHS network, while others run their own livestream operations on YouTube, Facebook Live, or their own websites. A good idea is to find a specific school’s website or their Facebook page and look for the right links there.
After all, when in doubt, error is on the safe side. If a link looks lazy, leave it out. No game is worth the hassle of identity theft.
Besides, it’ll be in the newspaper tomorrow. Then read all about it.
Ernest Bowker is Sports Editor for the Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at [email protected]