Facebook hoax reveals widespread outbreak of gullibility
by Justin McGill, General Manager -- jmcgill@cadizrecord.com
Nov 28, 2012 | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It happened again. And, of course, Facebook is involved.

Not that long ago, I wrote a column about how easy it is to quickly deceive a large number of people in today’s society. That column was largely inspired by fake and misappropriated photos connected to Hurricane Sandy.

This time, it’s something much simpler. And the response is more disappointing.

How many of you have read the following in the last week?

“In response to the new Facebook guidelines, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!”

Take a minute with that and think.

Do you really think that posting something like that on a social media site will accomplish anything?

If you do, read this: It won’t.

Want proof? Go back and read the Terms & Conditions that you (probably) blindly agreed to when you created your account. Yes, you do have copyright on photos and info you post to Facebook, but you’ve given Facebook permission to use them.

Part of what bothers me about this hoax is that it was unleashed for the first time earlier this year. Now it’s happened again, but no one seems to remember. Have our attention spans become so short?

But the most troubling thing to me is that there are so many people who believe a Facebook status update can stand as a legally-binding statement.

It reminds me of an episode of The Office from a few years ago. Michael Scott (played by Steve Carell) is in financial trouble. A co-worker suggests that he declare bankruptcy.

In true Michael Scott fashion, he stands in the middle of his office and screams, “I DECLARE BANKRUPTCY!”

When you think about it, it’s not much different.

Now, it’s not my intention to shame or offend anyone who fell for this hoax. I’m sure many of our readers did.

What I’m saying is, use this as a learning experience. Don’t take everything at face value, especially if you saw it on Facebook. Or on the Internet in general, for that matter.

There are people who create social media accounts for the sole purpose of widely distributing false information, and many of them do an excellent job of presenting that information in a way that is easy to consume.

Take the “If it’s too good to be true ...” approach, but apply it in both directions.

A large portion of such Facebook statuses deal with Obamacare – how it’s going to leave the elderly to die or force us to pay for something from which the President and members of Congress will be exempt. Both of these things are false. Do the research. It’s easy to find.

Folks, we no longer live in a world where you can trust what everyone tells you. I’m not sure that world ever existed, but it definitely doesn’t now.

If you’re reading this, then you have a brain capable of discerning between truth and fiction.

Justin McGill is executive editor of The Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at jmcgill@cadizrecord.com.
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