No end in sight in the posting and sharing of urban legend hoaxes on Facebook
|April 13, 2013||Posted by admin under News In General, Urban Legends||
By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette
Saturday, April 13, 2013 — The phenomenon recently has been poked fun of in a variety of commercials. It is a malady that has probably infected all of us at one time or another. The symptoms include the suspense of common sense and the inability to question things that are too good or bad to be true.
The phenomenon that still plagues a great many Web users is believing nearly everything one sees on the Internet, particularly urban legends.
Urban legends are false stories repeated as truth from one person to another. There are hundreds of urban legends out there, and they often resurface from time to time.
Examples of recent urban legends include the photo of Microsoft founder Bill Gates making the rounds on Facebook with the claim that one can win $5,000 if you repost the photo and message. This hoax popped up a couple of months ago, and I continue to see it on regular basis. Hoaxes related to Bill Gates (or another company) giving money or other freebies for forward a message have been circulating on the Internet since the mid-1990s. If I haven’t been clear, let’s state the obvious: No one is going to receive $5,000 from Bill Gates; the claim is a hoax.
Scary warnings that circulate regularly on Facebook are always urban legend hoaxes. The two most recent hoaxes were related to personal safety and taken at face value could be plausible.
GANGS USING CHILDREN TO LURE RAPE VICTIMS. One hoax claims that gangs are using children to help lure women who will be raped. The story goes that a child who claims to be lost has a piece of paper with an address and asks to be taken home. The warning says to take the child to the nearest police station, do not take him or her to the address.
The image at right is the warning that’s been circulating on Facebook; it has been shared more than 3,700 times, an admirable feat if the warning were based on fact. You can click here to read the entry at Snopes.com, the Urban Legend Reference Pages.
CARJACKERS USING WINDSHIELD STICKERS. The second example of an urban legend hoax that appeared recently on Facebook is a warning that carjackers are placing stickers on the rear windows of cars to get the drivers to exit their vehicles long enough for the carjackers to jump in and steal the vehicle.
Its a scary tale; unfortunately it isn’t true (or at least cannot be confirmed as true). Click here to read about the history of this urban legend.
The Urban Legends Reference Pages investigates claims, and has since the site went online in 1995. In those days, most hoaxes were by e-mail; I can’t tell you how many times I found hoax e-mails posted on our newspaper company bulletin board.
As users, we tend to put faith in those who send or forward e-mails to us, and this includes warnings that may wind up actually being urban legend hoaxes. I’m not throwing stones at those who wish to be cautious; but rather than forwarding, reblogging or reposting these hoaxes, I think it would be better for users to check the validity of these kinds of e-mails and posts.
The main way to tell if you have received a hoax is note if the message urges you to forward it to everyone you know, or repost and share it on Facebook. That generally is an indicator that the message is likely an urban legend hoax.
It takes only a few minutes to determine if that Facebook post or e-mail that urge you to forward or share is a real warning or a hoax. And if it is a message that promises free soda, food, computers or other products if you forward or share a message, save yourself some time and disappointment — check the validity of the offer before you share or forward.
See www.snopes.com to check suspected urban legends.