Oh, Facebook—where friends, family and semi-strangers all congregate to poke each other, share vacation photos, argue about politics, search for high school crushes, play FarmVille and, unfortunately, fall for hoaxes.
There are those occasional viral posts that intentionally fool us, and the idyllic status updates that simply obscure the realities of life. But, perhaps the most notable hoaxes on Facebook are the ones that deal directly with the site itself. Like just this week, when a hoax began circulating that encouraged users to copy and paste the following status update, lest all their updates suddenly become public unless they pay a fee:
“Now it’s official! It has been published in the media. Facebook has just released the entry price: $5.99 to keep the subscription of your status to be set to ‘private.’ If you paste this message on your page, it will be offered free (paste not share) if not tomorrow, all your posts can become public. Even the messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed. After all, it does not cost anything for a simple copy and paste.”
Can you imagine if this were actually true? There would be chaos. The Internet would shut down. But we share this stuff anyway because hey, better safe than sorry, right?
Facebook reps were on hand to dispel the rumors, though, once again.
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The point is WE ARE ALL VICTIMS, and it’s important to be able to separate the real from the fake – especially in Facebook Land, where many of us spend so much time. So just for funsies, here are a few more of our other favorite/not-so-favorite Facebook hoaxes and lies (we see a pattern).
The “copyright-protection” mumbo jumbo
Similar to this week’s big hoax, back in January, a status update containing just enough legal jargon to mildly scare the average Internet user started circulating around Facebook, basically warning people to copy and paste its content into their own status updates or else their information would be stolen.
The best part about this one is that it wasn’t even original — there was a similar hoax in 2012, which Facebook also addressed (and to be honest, they’re probably sick of addressing at this point).
“When this post hits X likes, I will X!”
This is a cheap way to get hits and popularity while simultaneously wasting people’s time and taking up space on their news feed that could be filled with important stuff, like pictures of kittens in Halloween costumes. Rude and unnecessary — especially when the poster promises to do something nice for someone really in need and doesn’t follow through. One example of that was a hoax a few years back that promised to donate money to a sick 9-year-old girl in need in exchange for likes. Of course, it was one of many hoaxes that exploited the lives of real people and fooled hundreds. So let’s all work together to make sure we donate our time and effort to real causes instead of thinking a “Like” will magically do it for us.
The myth of the Facebook video ad
In 2013, an official looking Facebook status update featuring Mark Zuckerberg’s picture went viral, proposing a plan to host video ads, and asking users to share the post if they wanted to vote against that move. Video ads on Facebook? It could happen, but obviously we’d rather it didn’t. Cut to us sharing a total hoax post. Foiled again!
The see who’s viewed your profile trick
We’ve all fallen prey to this one—the ad that pops up in your feed promising you the chance to view your Facebook stalkers. If only. The post, which has you click on a link that then prompts you to share your Facebook information instead, is a total scam. We must accept that fact that we may never know who’s secretly looking at our profile on Facebook, thus those people we regularly stalk will never know about our weird obsessions with them, either. Seems like a fair trade off.
So next time, before we share something on Facebook that seems slightly outrageous or even too good to be true, let’s do our research. The power of spreading information, good or bad, is in our hands! Now back to playing FarmVille.
(Image via Facebook)