Tim Carman, our food critic, usually gives me copy. He sometimes gives me hairy Asian fruits to try. Occasionally he will bring by his dog, Coltrane Meatsack, to wag his tail in my direction. But this week Tim Carman gave me the koobface worm. I’ll be honest, I prefer the hairy fruits.

The koobface worm is a virus that spreads through Facebook and MySpace. I thought it somewhat odd that Tim, my Facebook friend, sent me a video message that said I’d been caught “making love” and that I really needed to see that video and, oh, also: “LOL.” Didn’t seem like Tim (especially that “LOL” part), but there was his little Facebook picture of the Biscuitville sign and I thought, well, maybe this is some sort of super funny joke.

The joke is that Tim had no control over this thing, it went to all or most of the people on his list and if you clicked on the video and followed some instructions on downloading the latest Flash player, you got wormed. The worm shut down my Facebook account because it sent spam to all or most of the people on my list. It also infected the Google search on my home PC so that clicking on any of the entries will redirect you to wherever the wormers want you to go.

This thing is not exactly new. Yesterday’s New York TimesBits” column has it beginning in late July. Kaspersky lab has apparently found 27 variants of it, all of them directed toward the two most populated social networking sites. Facebook released a statement that it has “detected and contained” the worm and that “these efforts have limited the affected users to a small percentage of those on Facebook.”

Facebook also e-mailed me that my Facebook account has been restored, although when I login I’m told I’m still an evil spammer. Several messages to them have not been returned. Facebook has a phone number, which instructs you to send them e-mail.

Based on my old-person skills and some limited research, here’s how to protect yourself: Run a virus scan. According to an article on CNET, the best free one for this particular virus is Malwarebytes Anti-Maleware 1.25, which can be downloaded here. If you’ve already got the virus, my understanding is this might detect it and repair it. There is also a list of files that can be deleted if you disable system restore, which McAfee sort of explains here.

If anyone knows of other solutions, please fire away. I miss all those friends I haven’t talked to in 15 years.