Each day, as part of my morning routine, I check into Facebook, catch up on notifications, visit a few of my favorite groups and usually find myself pissed off at someone or something said or seen on Facebook. Expressions such as “are you kidding me?”, “unbelievable”, “this is really dumb” are frequently said, if not audibly then in my mind. I wondered for a while how social media (read Facebook) could possibly have an impact on our elections. But then, I soon realized that it is so obvious that so many Facebook users will believe anything they read in the app it would be quite easy to influence many with fake news and articles. In my opinion, Facebook is becoming a dangerous place. Here is why.
There is an old expression that goes something like this; if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are many examples of this to be found. Frequently I have seen people share coupons offering tremendous discounts from stores such as Kroger and Walmart that promise large amounts of free merchandise for each like or share of a post. Really, you think so. Do the math. If Kroger gave fifty dollars in merchandise for each like and share, and If one million people like and share this then Kroger would be out $50,000,000. That wouldn’t do much for their bottom line. I pointed out to one of my Facebook “friends” that he just shared a hoax post. His response was “I thought so but shared it just in case”. Duh! What he should have done was a quick web search to prove to himself that this was a hoax. It probably would have been confirmed in a matter of seconds, he could have chuckled at how stupid some people are and moved on. Instead, I was the one chuckling. By the way, this type of foolishness has been around for a long time, before Facebook and other social media sites. My first recollection was an email that promised Bill Gates would give me a substantial sum of money each time I forwarded the email. Delete!! But as many times as I received it. I guess there were a lot of folks ending up very disappointed. If something is too good to be true
Here is another hint, when you get a Facebook notification that one dollar will be donated every time a picture of a sick child is shared, believe me when I say it will not. Do a little research and you might be surprised to find out that sick child has been “sick” for many years. What you probably will find out is that the whole thing is a hoax. Sharing without verifying is irresponsible. It takes no longer to click on the news article reporting on a missing person then it takes to click on share. It has been my experience that most often the missing person is no longer missing. Frequently the missing person has no longer been missing for quite some time. Facebook should build an algorithm that verifies one viewed the article before making the share button active. There are a lot fewer sick kids and a lot fewer missing people then one would think when browsing Facebook. Not to mention that if we limit our shares to only valid reports, then more attention could be paid to them and we would waste less time and resources on the rest.
Another thing that makes me shake my head and wonder are the proliferation of so called quizzes on Facebook that will tell you everything about your self that you did not know, from your ideal occupation to the date you will die. They may seem like simple fun and an opportunity to feed your ego, but why are they there in the first place. Many of the quizzes have nefarious reasons for their existence. Some of them ask personal questions such as the name of your first pet or what city you were born in. Seems harmless enough, except those are possibly the same questions you provided answers for as security questions for other reasons, such as your bank account or credit card account. At the very least, you probably just deposited a cookie in your browser designed to do some data mining as you visit other websites. When you click on the quiz that prompts “only those with a genius IQ will answer all the questions correctly”, and you get them all. What do you think just happened, genius?
In closing I will only say that your web security and safety is your responsibility. If you do not take the necessary precautions, if you do not verify, if you trust it must be safe because my “friend” shared it, then what happens is on you. There are a lot of self-employed IT guys and gals who would rather you not pay any attention to this as they will be the ones you pay to fix your computer when the malware bytes. Good luck!
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?
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