Gullible Facebook users

A while back, when email started to get really popular, there was a large amount of “manual viruses” that went round. You would receive an email that went along the lines of

“Microsoft has today released a warning about the xyz virus. This is a very harmful virus that will automatically send itself to everyone in your Inbox. Please forward this mail to everyone you know so that they do not open an email with the subject xyz”.

The virus usually didn’t exist. What did everyone who received it do? Forwarded it to everyone in their contacts list which is exactly what the virus was purported to do. There were some amusing ones which claimed it would send your ex-girlfriend your new phone number etc. There is a good summary of these hoaxes here.

If they wern’t playing on the fear of catching a computer virus, they played on the emotional heartstrings – sign this petition to end cruelty to women under the Taliban etc. The irony is that these particular petitions are often designed to disrupt an email address – so when everyone forwards their ‘signature’ onto the (sometimes genuine) email address (in the Taliban case someone with the title Special Advisor on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women) which is either non-existent or worse, floods the Inbox and actually prevents the Special Advisor from doing his or her job.

Soon – most people got wise to the idea – then web site phishing came along where people were asked to give their bank (or, more likely, eBay) login details, and again, people got wise to it.

Why, then, are people again falling for Facebook hoaxes which are breathtakingly not possible. As with the email ones they play on fear and emotional blackmail. Eg a recent popular post on Funwall is around a gang initiation in London whereby gangs drive around with their lights off and have to shoot the driver of the first car to flash them. Obviously you have to pass this on to your friends and tell them not to flash anyone who has their lights off. This warning claims to come from various sources, one of which is the London Ambulance Service who posted this denial on their website. There are various others claiming that Make A Wish foundation will donate 7 cents every time a message of support for a sick child is passed on. Just think for a second. Why would they do this? How would they know how many times it has been passed on? Is this really the best way to support Make A Wish foundation?

The craziest one yet is a post alleging to be from Mark Zuckerberg himself (therefore it must be true!) This is worth reproducing in its entirety:

Attention all Facebook membeRs.
Facebook is recently becoming very overpopulated,
There have been many members complaining that Facebook
is becoming very slow.Record shows that the reason is
that there are too many non-active Facebook members
And on the other side too many new Facebook members.
We will be sending this messages around to see if the
Members are active or not,If you’re active please send
to other users using Copy+Paste to show that you are active
Those who do not send this message within 2 weeks,
The user will be deleted without hesitation to create more space,
If Facebook is still overpopulated we kindly ask for donations but until then send this message to all your friends and make sure you send
this message to show me that your active and not deleted.

Founder of Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg

Where do we start with this? Facebook is becoming slow because of inactive members???? Just think about this for one second. Why is your gym busy? Is it because of all those people who have joined and don’t show up? And Facebook don’t know who is active and who is inactive? And the best way they have of determining this is for you to send a message to other users and send a copy to Mark? Why do you need to send it on to all your friends? And why is it going around Funwall? Can’t Facebook just put a message in everyone’s Inbox? And are you seriously telling me Facebook can’t tell which users are active? Back to the gym, don’t you think that they might know who comes in and out of the building for marketing purposes? How does Facebook make its money? Advertising. Who is active and what they are looking it is the most valuable piece of information Facebook holds. Without it, they’d lose money.

Oh, and of course, they’ll delete your account in 2 weeks. Even if you’ve been away on holdiay for two weeks and not logged in. That will go down well with their users. Doesn’t anyone remember the phishing scams of a few years ago “we’ll close your bank account unless you send us your username and password within 48 hours”. Of course, the irony is I have seen some walls with this posted 6 or 7 times. Don’t these people see that by doing what they are doing they are contributing to the problem?? No wonder Facebook has been so slow recently…

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