We’ve all seen posts like this on facebook; praying on our fears to make us click that share button otherwise something terrible will happen. Or maybe you have seen those telling you that someone has committed an awful crime and it is accompanied by a picture of a random person. There are those that warn you about how your phone might kill you if you use it while it is charging or beware of teddy bears because they wake up and eat you in your sleep (ok, maybe not that one but some of them are that far fetched)
As good citizens we want to make sure that our friends don’t fall foul to whatever threat the post is warning us about so we share it on, or maybe we are scared of what will happen if we don’t. What harm can it do?
There are three reasons why you shouldn’t share certain posts on facebook.
1. Spreading Fear
Firstly, we are sending a message that there is something to be frightened of. It’s only a small message but it is still there whispering “the world is a terrible place and you need to be fearful”. As it whispers to us we turn away from our own experiences and believe what we are reading.
The number of people suffering from anxiety is increasing every day. People are scared to walk outside their house at night and they trust no-one, but how many people have actually personally experienced these things we are all frightened of?
Are we really doing people a favour by spreading fear? If you follow the belief that thought creates reality, in adding to people’s fear you are actually increasing their chances of something terrible happening to them.
2. Spreading lies
How many people check that the thing they are sharing is actually true? Ok, the ones that pray on superstition are hard to prove and in the end you have to run them through your own beliefs, but the ones that warn you of specific people who are dangerous or homicidal teddy bears can often be checked.
Sites such as Snopes or Hoax Slayer on Facebook are great for checking the validity of these posts, and it isn’t even hard. Simply copy a pertinent part of the text, paste it into google and include the word Snopes or Hoax and generally you will find something if it is a hoax. This link (warning, some images may be upsetting) shows how the messages about exploding phones holds some truth but also states that the warnings have been exaggerated.
3. You might be adding to the ruining of someone’s life.
That person in the picture, are they really stealing dogs? If the post is a hoax that person will be facing repeated unfounded claims about their character. How would you feel if a photo of you was posted up saying you were a paedophile? You and your friends would know it was untrue, but what about the millions of people who see and share it that don’t know you?
As you know, there is a facility in facebook to have pages as well as profiles, just like the CrystalOak one, that allows people to advertise their business. When you set up a page you are under the impression that every post you make turns up on all you’re likers’ news feeds; sadly this simply isn’t true.
To get your posts to show on as many pages as possible you either have to pay to boost your post, or, post things that will increase your stats by getting people to like, share or comment. Pictures like the one to the left are a prime example, it serves no purpose than to get you to comment, and when you do it shows up on other people’s news feeds, encouraging them to do the same. This improves the page’s stats and the page becomes more valuable. Once a page’s stats are good enough it gets sold on and used for advertising a product.
People are using the public’s willingness to play the game to their own ends. In this case it’s harmless if annoying, but those that promise that Bill Gates will pay $1 for every like to save a dying kid are not so innocuous. For a start, that child in the picture is getting no such help. Instead they have probably already passed and the picture is being used without his parent’s permission. One day the internet is covered in pictures of their child, dying, being used to increase a page’s stats. That, to me, is vile!
I really do encourage people to think before they share, are you really doing a favour?
I will leave you with the following YouTube link. Michael Moore’s film Bowling for Columbine shows us how the increased level of fear people are feeling is having a real and damaging effect on our society. I know it is long but it really is worth watching.