“A lie gets halfway around the world before
the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
– Winston Churchill
Let’s say one thing upfront: Facebook is not (and should not) be known for their interest in protecting your personal information. While it does offer a handful of tools, and finding the privacy setting you need is not the most intuitive.
But it’s that very confusion that makes us so receptive when a Friend voices a concern and gives you a specific set of instructions in order to overcome FB’s evil secret strategy to trick you into sharing details of your personal life with the public.
When your friend posts a warning about something, it’s most often something they diligently copy/pasted in a post, as they were instructed to do when they first viewed the warning from one of their friends. Then you post it to your friends, and soon millions of FB users are aware of the issue, thanks in part to you – and you feel good about yourself. The problem is, the warning is bogus.
ENTER THE POINTLESS HOAX –
Most often, these posts don’t include links or promotion of a page, web site, or company, and no reference to Russian brides or Nigerian royalty. There’s nothing to indicate that the post is anything other than your friend conscientiously managing their privacy, and helping you to do the same.
But look again. Some signs that the post is bogus include:
- The post is not written using the ‘normal’ language of your friend – this suggests they copy/pasted it (though likely not trying to be sneaky).
- The post includes a warning – this urges us to read all the way through.
- The post instructs us to somehow act upon the warning – this could be a prompt for a ‘like’ or repost, an adjustment to your settings, etc.
- Instructions to ‘share this with as many people as possible’ – This one’s the real ‘gotcha’, and the biggest sign that the message is a hoax.
One more way to unveil a hoax is to copy a sentence of the post and do a search on Google (surround your snippet with quotes in order to find the exact phrase). Your results may lead you to a number of hoax-busting sites where you can discover the full story.
We will continue to be lured in by these tempting posts, and when we discover that we were tricked, we’ll kick ourselves for not knowing better. And then we’ll get suckered again… Just try to find solace in the fact that you’re doing your best to be diligent AND that you’re not the only sucker!