I have a disorder. Hell, I have many disorders…I love junk food, I have a grammar fetish, I’m a control freak, and those are just a couple on the top of a long list. The disorder I’m going to talk about today, though, is my inability to see hoaxes and falsehoods on social media and not point out that it’s false.
I know, I know, I could turn this particular disorder into a full time, unpaid position. There is no shortage of bullsnot on the internet. Nor is there a shortage of people who think it’s perfectly alright to spread malarkey far and wide. I’ve been told that if I don’t like something, I should just move on. I probably SHOULD. That doesn’t mean I DO. Or that I WILL. You post something that ends up in my newsfeed, you give up the right to bitch at me for commenting. Agreed?
So what’s wrong with posting things that aren’t true? There’s no harm in warning someone that women are being drugged with perfume samples, right? I mean, it COULD happen, so best to get that warning out there up front. Better safe than sorry, right? And, Facebook COULD start laying claim to all of your photos if you don’t post that privacy statement on your timeline. Your family Christmas pic may end up in the background of some pornographic film somewhere. What about those poor people (likely young children) that won’t get the surgery unless we LIKE and SHARE so that Coca-Cola will donate $1? No harm, right?
Wrong. There is lots of harm.
- Malware. If the scam takes you to another site (“CLICK HERE to demand an end to putting kittens in blenders!) that could infect your computer
- Scam. You could be urging people to sign up for, donate to, or support bogus causes.
- Spreading Falsehoods. There are multiple “warnings” put out on software programs that are authored by….ready for this?….competitors. You could be ruining a company’s reputation by spreading lies about their product.
- Creating danger. You know the one about entering your PIN number backwards if you’re being robbed at the ATM? Do you want to be responsible for someone thinking this is actually summoning the police? All those scary stories about women being abducted with perfume? You’re giving crazy people ideas. You’re helping to create copycat criminals for crimes that weren’t even committed yet.
This is where I beg you to stop, and you ignore me. So, just fair warning that I’ll be vocal (what’s the written form of vocal?) this year. Sorry. Somebody’s gotta do it.
Just for starters, here’s a list of hoaxes and scams for 2017 that you should maybe avoid participating in or spreading. Happy New Year from me.
- Bill Gates is not sending you money. Sorry.
- No company is donating money towards someone’s medical procedures if you LIKE and SHARE their page. They may enter you into a drawing for a gift card (legitimate), but not holding someone’s life hostage.
- Jesus, God, or any other deity you may encounter does not expect you to SHARE if you love them.
- No one is giving away 50 RVs because they can’t be sold.
- Celebrity deaths will be reported on credible news sites, and it won’t be with a caption of “David Hasselhoff falls to his death in New Zealand!”
- Facebook can do whatever it wants within the Terms and Conditions you agreed to when you signed up. The good news? They’re not charging you for using your account, and it won’t be deleted at midnight if you don’t follow the link.
- “While you were sleeping, Congress quietly passed a law”…. Stop it. Do some research. Oh, and no one is implanting you with an RFID chip when you sign up for Obamacare, either.
- Clowns are not murdering people.
- You cannot charge an iPod with an onion
- Hercules was indeed the largest dog on record, a stunning English Mastiff that weighed 282 lbs. However, the photo depicting him walking next to a horse and being nearly the same size is a photoshopped image, and not even a good one. Seriously, how much do horses weigh?
- iPhones are not waterproof, nor are they programmed to detect water and automatically shut themselves off.
- There is no Derbyshire Fairy. I know, I know, I wanted to believe too.
- Obama’s social security number does not belong to Jean Paul Ludwig. And, he wasn’t born in Africa. (Even Trump knows this now.)
- There have been no discoveries of “hairy spider monkeys” on Mars.
- KFC has never served a fried rat, and the woman who claimed there were live maggots in her fried chicken was extorting money. Seriously, KFC has enough problems by just being….well, KFC. Don’t make it worse.
- Dearborn, MI did not implement Sharia Law. Neither did the place in Texas. Or anywhere in the U.S. Again, stop it with the fear mongering.
If you want to do your homework before forwarding on messages via email or social media, there are plenty of sites to check. If it’s breaking news, try to verify with a credible media source. As rare as they may be, there are still some out there. NPR and BBC are still widely regarded as accurate. If it’s something that may be a hoax, check it against some of these sites: Hoax-Slayer, TruthOrFiction.com, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, Washington Post Fact Checker, ThatsFake.com, ThatsNonsense.com, and, of course, Snopes.com. If you’re one of those that believe that Snopes is not trustworthy, or has a left-leaning liberal bias, please know that I disagree with that, but I won’t fault you for using a different site.
In conclusion, I wish you all a happy, healthy, and TRUTHFUL New Year!