The Pleasanton Police Department sent out a warning this week to urge residents to not "Be Like Bill" and share personal memes online due to security risks.
Shannon Revel-Whitaker, community services officer at the Pleasanton Police Department, was browsing through her personal Facebook site and noticed the "Be Like Bill" postings on her newsfeed. The meme itself is a stick-figure caricature that mocks everyday social media habits with satirical comebacks, and its has gone viral in recent weeks.
She decided to try the meme for herself but quickly noticed the security risks that came with making a custom meme.
"On a personal level, I went through the 'Be Like Bill' meme and you take it and it gives you a warning and a policy. I didn't end up sharing the meme on my Facebook page because I didn't like what the warning and policy stated," Whitaker said.
Bobla, the meme's creator, states in its terms and conditions policy that individuals who participate in the meme's game and sharing "will allow us to use, edit your content with our service permanently, no limit and no recover."
Social media users who engage and use the "Be Like Bill" meme content could be at risk of the meme causing a virus on their computers and tracking and attempting to steal bank account numbers or credit card information.
In order for Facebook users to participate in sharing their own personal meme, they need to download the meme-generated application and go through the application download process and accept the terms and conditions agreement.
"Although the memes are fun to see, it is not worth the security risk. Read the fine print and make sure you are OK with the terms. To share a chuckle is not worth the frustration," Whitaker said.
Bobla also stated it in terms of service that data is removed from their system after usage.
"We only use this information for statistical analysis purposes and then the data is removed from the system," Blobla's terms of service stated.
Blobla also mentions to consumers in its terms of service that the content shown from the member's social media page is the consumers' own responsibility.
"Blobla will not take any responsibility for any content that members upload. The content only shows the personal uploader's point of view," the creator's terms of service said.
Brooke Silva, an Amador Valley alumna, generated the "Be Like Bill" meme but decided not to share her meme on her Facebook wall for reasons other than it being a potential security risk.
"I heard about the security risk a day after I generated the meme. I don't know much about the potential threat. I didn't share it on my page because the meme is dumb. It has 10 stock answers that it cycles through for everyone. Although I was curious, I didn't see the point in posting it to annoy others on Facebook," Silva said.
Silva also mentioned that after generating her personal "Be Like Bill" meme, she personally did not see any security risks before, during and after the process of creating her meme.
"I haven't noticed any risks so far and I am unsure of whether or not someone was overreacting about the security threat," Silva said.
Social media users are able to report scam posts on Facebook and on Twitter, including the "Be Like Bill" meme app, by following instructions on the social media sites directly.