Everything Concerning Social Media

A Look At Social Media Hoaxes Part 2

 Social Media Hoaxes

In the last post we started looking at social media hoaxes, and today we will conclude our endeavor.  We have looked at the Facebook copyright/privacy hoax, and the mobile phone exploding while charging.

More Social Media Hoaxes

We will now continue with the examples of social media hoaxes listed below:

3.  Seasonal Scams

So far we’ve looked at the current most popular Facebook hoaxes.  The biggest danger these currently pose is embarrassment to the person passing these on when they are alerted by more knowledgeable friends that these are hoaxes.

But with another holiday season upon us, what about hoaxes that actually lead to the gullible being defrauded?  Social networks have become the perfect breeding ground for this particular danger; and last year McAfee released an eye-opening post on its official blog called “The Twelve Scams of Christmas”.  In particular, the post warns about fake Facebook promotions and contests.

One of the most popular so far:  Fake iPad giveaways.

How to recognize scams?  They’ll ask for at least one of the following, up front

  • Your personal detail
  • Your credit card or bank card informatio
  • Money to cover “fees” or “taxes”

What you should be looking for:

  • A privacy policy page attached to the offer, containing believable data

Even if you don’t lose money responding to a scam, your computer may be loaded with spyware or your personal information sold to a data mining company.  So be very careful with giveaways – especially around Christmas time.

You’ve heard it before:  If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

4.  Fake Facebook Pages

Here’s a hitherto-unreported danger to not creating your own Facebook Page.  Your competitor may do it for you.

Facebook is social media

CBC news reported last March that Comfort King Windows and Doors signed up for a Facebook Page only to discover that someone else had beaten them to it.  They had noticed a drop in website sales, but didn’t put two-and-two together until owner, Paul Hunter, discovered the fake Facebook page.

“There were friends, family, business colleagues on there, customers of ours,” Hunter said, “So the Facebook page, the fraudulent one, was done very professionally — not a kid hacking around.”[1]

If you should ever discover a Facebook Page is a fraud, you can report it here.

5.   Twitter “Missing Teen” Hoax

Also during this year:  A teen honor student tweeted that someone was in her house, asking followers to “call 911”.

None of those who saw the tweet apparently took any action, but her family reported her as missing.  Fortunately, police were able to confirm that someone from the house had actually called a taxi immediately after the tweet, and the taxi driver confirmed he had picked up the supposed victim and taken her to a bus station.  Video footage confirmed she boarded a bus bound for New York.

She was located near the New Jersey turnpike and “taken to hospital for evaluation”.

There are three tragic aspects to this story:

  • The “model” teen gave no prior indication that anything was wrong in her life
  • No one called 911 after reading the tweet
  • The fact it was a hoax will likely minimize genuine cries for help or missing children notices via social media

But, as her mother pointed out in her video interview, “she’s still a missing sixteen-year-old girl.”

6.  Celebrity Hoaxes

Another Twitter hoax had celebrity Justin Bieber apparently reacting threats from a thief who had stolen his laptop and threatened to release nude photographs.

Sure enough, after more tweets from Bieber, at twelve noon on the nose “@gexwy” released… Bieber’s brand new promotional video featuring Nicki Minaj.  Yes, folks, all a hoax.

Another popular hoax type via Twitter and Facebook, most using the #RIP hashtag:  Celebrity deaths.

This year alone supposedly saw the demises of:

  • Justin Bieber
  • Jim Carrey
  • Cher
  • Bill Cosby
  • Russell Crowe
  •  Miley Cyrus
  • Johnny Depp
  • Morgan Freeman
  • Mick Jagger
  • Taylor Lautner
  • Lindsay Lohan
  •  Eddie Murphy

Many fans unwittingly spread fake death reports.  (Though, hmm.  After Bieber’s fake “nude photos” tweet scandal, one has to wonder who actually posted his.)

And the sheer number of fake death reports caused many to take the #RIP hashtag less seriously, reporting “deaths” such as Lindsay Lohan’s career and a Justin Bieber toothbrush:

Social media hoaxes ranged in 2012 from witty, tongue-in-cheek and entertaining all the way through downright dangerous.

The range of these hoaxes varied also in credibility:  While only the gullible believe such obviously-Photoshopped offerings as a shark swimming up a city street, others sent intelligent people scurrying to “warn” friends or left them paying big bucks to have viruses cleaned out of their computers.

Social Media Hoaxes Recommendations

Use your due diligence before rushing to share the latest scare.  Checking it out with Snopes is a good way to start. Don’t make a fool out of yourself by broadcasting some on social media that is not verified first.

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