Facebook is a wonderful venue for sharing our thoughts, ideas and photos with our friends and loved ones, but it also has a very serious downside. It’s ridiculously easy for false information to spread like wildfire by “going viral”.
Just think of all the “Free Gift Card” and “Click and share to get Facebook to donate to this great cause” scams. We see them every day. And make no mistake about it, these are very serious scams.
But there’s another type of scam that routinely takes place on Facebook that is perhaps even worse. Some folks use Facebook to falsely accuse innocent people of crimes and infractions they didn’t commit.
For example, a woman in Australia snapped a picture of a man who she thought was secretly taking pictures of her kids in a department store, then posted his pic on Facebook with the warning that he was a child molester.
The police got involved and quickly discovered that he wasn’t taking photos of her kids at all. He was actually taking a selfie in front of a Darth Vader cutout to send to his own kids who were huge Star Wars fans.
Unfortunately, that well-intentioned but terribly erroneous post went viral, and by the time the police had cleared the man of any wrong-doing his photo and the derogatory info about him had been viewed by millions of people worldwide.
It’s just simple human nature to want to help spread the word about people who we believe to be threats to society, and I’ll admit that I have even done it myself.
But whenever we see a post like this pop up on Facebook it would be wise to take it with a grain of salt because many (if not most) of them are posted by vindictive ex’s, friends who feel they have been wronged, or by people who made a simple but very damaging mistake like the lady from Australia.
It’s hard to imagine the pain and humiliation the poor fellow that took the selfie for his kids must have had to endure because of a single Facebook post that went viral. He even received death threats.
The bottom line is this: It’s only human nature to want to help keep the world safe from those who would do harm to others, but helping spread false derogatory information about an innocent person is literally as easy as clicking “Share” in our modern world. I hope we will all (myself included) think long and hard before we make that click.
The “scam” is initiated when a malicious post is posted, and it’s all too easy to allow ourselves to become well-meaning but very destructive accomplices.
And now, one final thought: The purpose of this post wasn’t to “call out” the folks who share these types of posts. Like I said, I have done it myself in the past. I just thought it might be helpful to bring the issue to light so we can all understand what all is at stake.