Before you “Facebook” it, “Google” it
Facebook can be a very good thing. I have been able to reconnect with friends and co-workers that I haven't seen in years and catch up with what's happening in their lives. Then, there's the other part of Facebook that irks me to no end. Specifically, I'm talking about the 20 bazillion posts (a slight numerical exaggeration) where someone is sharing what they think is a fact...when in truth, it's nothing more than one big scam. And, if I accomplish just one thing today, let me out some of the biggest Facebook offenders.
Over the weekend, I had several friends share a post about how you can enter your PIN number backwards into an ATM if you're being held up by a robber. According to the post, the ATM will give you your money, but will alert the police that you're being held up. Sounds like a great idea, doesn't it? Except that it's total and complete crap. A simple Google search will bring up the truth from Snopes and HoaxSlayer. Here's a brief note from HoaxSlayer:
To reiterate, although such technology exists, and legislation in some jurisdictions may eventually force their banks to begin using it, the system is NOT currently in use. Entering your PIN in reverse at an ATM will NOT call police and will only result in an "incorrect PIN" error message. Thus, this email contains dangerous misinformation and it should not be forwarded. If and when banks begin to install reverse PIN technology at ATMs it is sure to be well publicized. If your own bank begins using such a system, it will almost certainly let you know about it directly.
The Facebook hoax that absolutely makes me climb the walls is the one where someone alleges that "sharing" a post about a child who's a burn or cancer victim will result in them receiving free surgery or treatment. Again...a simple internet search will reveal how entirely bogus this claim is. I'll defer to the website NakedSecurity...and a specific case that was outed by HoaxSlayer:
One version of a hoax message that is currently circulating rapidly on Facebook features a photograph of baby Zoe Chambers and her mother Julie. The caption on the circulating photograph claims that baby Zoe will receive a free heart transplant if the picture receives 1000 Facebook shares. However, this caption is a blatant lie. Zoe suffered from CHD (congenital heart disorder) and received a heart transplant operation in 2007. Sadly in July 2008 she passed away. Zoe's mother Julie is extremely upset by this cruel and totally unauthorised use of Zoe's picture.
The heartless and morally bankrupt individual who originally misused this photo is a Jamaican who goes by the name of Garen Thoms. He had shared it on his fan (read scam) page on FB "Free Digicel Credit". He also uses the name "FreeCreditGuy". Initial investigation into this showed me he was using the photo to line his own pockets as the photo description included a link that led to one of his scam websites where people were tricked into making PayPal donations to his own company, thinking they were donating to a CHD cause. I exposed him on his fan page and thanks to Julie's large group of friends in the CHD community the picture and indeed his fan page were removed from Facebook.
Most of the time, these hoaxes prey on soft-hearted Facebook friends who mean well. But, please...for the sake of us all, please do a simple Google search before you share the next doozie on Facebook. The social media world will be a better place because of it.