A couple of days ago on Twitter I read a re-tweet ‘a baby is born…..George Michael Windsor’. And then stopped and thought for a moment before passing on this happy news, and went to the BBC News website where of course there was no news of any such thing. I have no idea how many were caught by that one but I suspect quite a few (thousands?).
Then yesterday a good friend of mine told me of a message he had received from a friend (a highly respected lawyer) on Facebook, regarding new Facebook privacy setting which were needed as a result of the ‘new Facebook Graphic App’. This is nonsense. And you only have to do a search on Google for ‘Facebook Graphic App’, to realise that it is a hoax. However it took me a while to get there.
I have to confess that this one nearly got me because of its provenance, although once I looked at it closely the instructions didn’t make sense, particularly having checked my Facebook privacy settings, and so having done a bit of research and come across endless posts on Google about the hoax like this one, I saw it for what it was.
The problem is that anyone can be fooled by a tweet, retweet or Facebook message particularly when it’s from someone you trust. The answer is don’t trust anything you read unless you know for a fact that it’s accurate, and if it’s big news check on the news websites first before sharing. And no matter how trusted your ‘messenger’ is he or she may have posted something received from someone else in good faith.
A hoax will go viral as fast as anything else (or probably faster if it’s sensationalistic). Be the one to think before you click.