How to spot a Facebook hoax… and what you can do about it.

HOW TO SPOT A FACEBOOK HOAX, SCAM & MANIPULATION
AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” – Winston Churchill

They want to manipulate you. For them, it’s fun or even for profit. For us, not so much. It may seem harmless but if they can get you to spread a scam, hoax or manipulation, you’re engaging in the culture of fear and ignorance. Or worse…

APPEAL TO EMOTION, OR THE BUSINESS OF EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL

Many of these manipulations appeal to our emotions or sense of moral indignation. Things like “Share or like if you agree that puppy killers are wrong” are designed to manipulate us into doing what someone else wants us to do. Of course, killing puppies is wrong. Like or share and the world will know what a good person you are, right? Don’t like or share and the implication is that everyone will know that you agree with this, and you will be seen as a bad person.

Manipulation through shame or guilt doesn’t sit well with me, and “crowd control” is nasty business. You probably noticed I don’t participate. I refer to such things as “emotional blackmail posts” and I’ve even taken a few of my friends here to task for doing it. I don’t want that “:do it or else” chain letter mentality in my life and I won’t spread it. My advice? When an item demands you do something, ask yourself why and start thinking about what you’re actually doing. Don’t let them hold you hostage with their “do it or else” mentality. You deserve better so pass on the emotional blackmail.

Note: This is not to be confused with honest posts. If someone posts a news item or a photo based on something real that you agree with or want to bring to everyone’s attention, by all means do it! That’s activism. That’s you expressing yourself or taking a stand. That is not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the implied “do it or else” crap that other people employ to control you for their own purposes. Say no to the nasty!

HOAXES – WHILE YOU’RE LOOKING HERE YOU WON”T BE LOOKING AT THE TRUTH

Hoaxes are ugly. They dupe us into spreading lies instead of telling the truth. We become desensitized to the facts and the truth gets buried when it shouldn’t. Things like “Don’t join this group (name here) they want your kids pictures!” only incite a panic somewhere inside you. That’s because it’s designed to do exactly that. Do you think it’s harmless? I don’t. Any time somebody’s smacking on my panic button, it usually makes me cranky. I think it should make you cranky, too. I bet it does, and rightly so.

SCAMS – THE COMPUTER YOU SAVE MAY BE YOUR OWN

Click on a link and POW you have a virus or someone’s trying to steal or collect your information. These are serious things and it’s best to stay on top of what’s going on out there. I post notices about such things when I can and I encourage you to do the same. It’s all about sticking together, staying informed and making good decisions.

A HANDY CHECKLIST

The following are often good ways to spot a hoax, scam or manipulation:

1) It uses all caps
2) There are lots of exclamation points
3) It scares the crap out of people
4) It pushes buttons
5) It’s strangely specific
6) Detailed steps are give on how to fix the problem
7) It says “It happened to ME”
8) It says “This is real, no fake!”
9) It provides no evidence
10) No way to verify the claim is given
11) They want you to like, share, forward, copy or paste
12) It demands immediate action

WHY IT MAKES ME CRANKY

Something inside me thinks “Wow, these little crooks really think they’re better or smarter than we are” and I rebel. I don’t like it when people try to take advantage of other people. It makes me cross. Maybe you feel the same way. If so, remember you’re not alone. It gets to me, too. But what do we do about it?

BE PART OF THE SOLUTION

VERIFY IT – Bodie Van Den Berg did two short tutorials that literally show you how fast and easy it is to do a quick verification.

How to find hoaxes on Facebook using Google: Part 1 (how to check the written word)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4U8r51p7j2Q

How to find hoaxes of Facebook using Google: Part 2 (how to check an image)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bl5U55RVats

There are sites made for this kind of thing. You can check these as well.
http://snopes.com/
http://facecrooks.com/
http://hoax-slayer.com/
http://thatsnonsense.com/

ALERT YOUR FRIENDS – Let everyone know so they don’t get caught up in it. Stop it before it starts by posting a warning. Add links to prove what you say, like a link from Snopes, so people can verify it for themselves. After all, we look out for each other, and that’s what being a good friend is all about, right?

I’ll keep this post public so anyone can see or read it should you choose to bookmark or share this as a source of information.

Stay safe, act smartly and be good to each other.

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