Being in the biz, I’m on the Internet a lot. I mean A LOT. As a result, I see the whole gamut of viral hoaxes, scams, “like” bait… you name it. The Internet has given tricksters and scam artists the power to reach millions of people though one click. Unfortunately these posts are being shared by too many – which leads me to the main reason for writing this. I’d like to make an appeal for everyone to stop being gullible and spreading this garbage. Just stop.
Please take two seconds to double check the facts before you spread the dumb. Most of the time, you can simply review the URL and determine if the story is legitimate. Please know that a site with WordPress or GoDaddy in their URL most likely won’t be dispelling factual or official information.
Like Farms and Fake Followers
Like Farms are what happens is someone creates a fake page with fake followers and starts posting bait (things to get you to interact with posts). Specifically when you like something on Facebook, it shows up on your friends’ news feeds. The more likes, the more visible the item is on the platform. Once that page administrator has reached thousands, even millions of likes, they begin to sell ad space or put the page up for sale to the highest bidder.
The truth is most of those “likes” come from fake accounts whose profile pictures were more than likely generated with generative adversarial network (GAN) technology. To illustrate the extent of this problem, there were over 83 million fake Facebook profiles in November 2019.
Like or Click Farms also include those silly contests supposedly from so-called “legitimate companies.” First, companies are not allowed to host contests on most social media platforms. Second, if a company chooses to violate the platform’s policy, their page will be deleted. Third, it’s easy to duplicate a brand on a social site for personal gain – logo and all. And finally, if these contests link off to a separate page they are possibly exposing your computer to malware and THAT, my friends, is a whole technical can of worms. So no, don’t trust or “like” those links either.
Fake stories are a HUGE problem on the Internet. Unfortunately they are not likely to stop anytime soon. Disinformation is a global issue given that mass communication is so widely accessible. Social media platforms and governments have been working together for years to find a solution that would address this epidemic. In the meantime, I’d take most shared news stories with a grain of salt. Stay alert my friends!
What To Do If You Share The Dumb
Did you share the dumb? Not sure what to do? Plain and simple: apologize. Then vow to look for a credible source next time, not to believe all memes or posts begging for shares and deny all requests for personal information. Remember, when in doubt – check it out! Here are a few resources to help you weed out the baloney:
Google – Simply search for the story title to see what else pops up to see if it’s legit.
Snopes – Cut and paste the title of the article in the search bar and click GO!
FactCheck.org – Sift through articles or perform a quick search to see the legitimacy of a political post.
Phew. Glad I got that out. Now I’m off to kick the lid off more viral hoaxes. Wish me luck!
Have more questions about the dumb? Fill out our contact form and we’ll do our best to give you more tips and resources. You can also give us a call at (915) 351-8440.
Naomi Dhillon is an Account Executive at Stanton Street, a website development company in El Paso, TX.