Online Scams, Chains, and Hoaxes

After about the millionth facebook friend of mine joined The Coalition of People Who Think That By Joining This Group I’ll Magically Have a Dislike Button on My Facebook Page, I decided this was a post that needs to be written.  We’ve all seen them, Bill Gates is testing email forwards and wants to give you money, a little girl in some city is sick and needs prayers and/or donations, or my personal favorite…a hundred puppies are going to die if you don’t forward this to all of your friends.  They appear in our inboxes, or facebook pages, and for me, they are one of the most annoying things in the world.

So how can you avoid being the annoying friend who falls for every single one of them?

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  This is a standard saying, but I see so many people that don’t believe it.  They think to themselves… ”well what if this time it’s actually true?” or ”it doesn’t hurt to try!”  I say yes… yes it DOES hurt to try, you are only perpetuating the hoax, and that is what is harmful.  If these things just stopped at the first round of suckers, they would forever die and go away!  So yes, it does hurt to try in this case.   In the “too good to be true” category is things like Walmart is going to give $1000 gift cards to the first 1000 fans on Facebook.  Really? They aren’t.  They don’t care.  Sure they understand the importance of Facebook and Twitter, but just by creating their account they are going to get fans and followers.  They don’t need a gimmick to do so.  Especially a MILLION DOLLAR gimmick!  So basically use a little common sense when you see things like this, and error on the side of caution.

Facebook groups that promise you the Brooklyn Bridge for joining their group or page, are probably a hoax.  I see this one ALL the time.  Joining a group will not give you a dislike button, nor will it allow you to view who is looking at your profile, or any of the other crazy promises some groups claim to be able to give you.  The best thing to do is only to join groups or fan pages of people you actually like, or things you like (such as http://www.facebook.com/tech4mommies)

DO YOUR RESEARCH!  If you get an email and it sounds a bit fishy (or should I say phishy!) then check it out before you blindly send it along.  http://www.snopes.com is a great resource for all things hoaxy.  Check with them and find out the real scoop on that.

The last thing I want to discuss with regards to “chains” is Facebook statuses.  A Facebook or Twitter status is to talk about things of interest to you.  I’ve seen a lot of “if you love puppies put this as your status for an hour”… how about you just say what you like so much about puppies, and be original?  If you want to stamp out autism or support the troops then do just that!  Write a letter to the troops or send a care package and then put as your status “I just sent a great care package to the troops in Iraq, you should totally do the same!”  or “I just donated $10 for Autism research and here is a website that you can go to to do the same”.  These are things that will actually make a difference, instead of lacking originality and just passing on a lame chain.  :)

I promise to step off my soapbox now.  Thank you for listening.

Sarah Kimmel

Sarah Kimmel

Sarah Kimmel is bringing you the tech news and tips that you want to hear! Find out more on .
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19 comments

  1. Amy

    So well said! But really, you can’t be informed about people who look at your facebook profile? Cause when I see people have done this, I make a mental note to never look at their profile!

  2. Karen

    Thanks for joining me on my soapbox!!
    I get so irritated with all the ‘junk’ that goes around. It generally gets deleted straight away.

  3. Margaret

    I couldn’t have said all of this in a nicer way!!!
    Thanks Karen for posting the link.
    It is darn frustrating how many people simply don’t use COMMON SENSE with junk/spam emails. Many years ago I searched for ‘email tracking’ and got to a site…. urbanlegends.com which also explains the fact / fiction of emails.

    As for people looking at my facebook profile…… I really don’t mind who looks because there’s facebook security and SETTINGS. I haven’t seen a legitimate facebook setting that allows one to SEE who has checked out ones profile. (or am I not setting my settings correctly??)

    There’s as much good, as there is bad, stuff on the internet, if not more.
    Have fun and learn everyone! :-)

  4. kolfinnas korner

    I say AMEN to your post, however you can’t always trust snopes. They have false information and give out false information on their page. My husband is a locksmith, and some of the things they say about different ways to defeat/bypass a lock are totally un-true. If you want more information, send me an e-mail and I can ask my husband…..he knows more about snopes issues than I do. Unfortunately the internet is so full of misleading information it’s hard to tell the truth from stories sometimes.

    I learned a long time ago not to even entertain the thought of such awesome ideas. I just hit the “junk” button and go on with my business. I have stopped playing games and joining groups on facebook (except for 2 games) and I ony join groups or become fans of local businesses or local causes.
    .-= kolfinnas korner´s last blog ..Food Waste Friday =-.

  5. Susan S.

    I am so glad that someone finally made a blog about this subject! The ignore or block application is my favorite friend on facebook. I am like you, I only join sites I actually want to. I have heard horror stories of Christian people joining a group, than the group leader changing the name to Satan’s followers and stuff like that.

    Thanks for a great article!

  6. Cecilia

    Thanks Sarah for saying this out loud.

    I have a good friend that falls for these ALL. THE. TIME. …the latest was that $500 GIFT CARD FOR OLIVE GARDEN THIS WEEK ONLY IF YOU JOIN THIS GROUP! And then I proceed to give her the link of the actual website where it says it is false, but she continues joining/believing these things.

    But I think it is also dangerous to join these groups/pages because then they get your information, well, at least your info that you decide to put on your FB page. That’s why mine is pretty much all false or left blank.

  7. Halley

    Thank you! I feel the same way, especially about people posting their cause in their status, as if this does anything. My mom falls for all of these scams and sends them all my way, even though I have told her not to, I just delete them…
    As for tracking who is looking at your FB profile, all of those apps are a hoax as well, it just randomly chooses people from your friends list and says this is who is looking. FB has said from the beginning they will never allow this. Also, if you don’t want people looking at your profile, don’t have one! Make sure your settings are where you want them, as Margaret said.

  8. Adrienne

    My most-not-favorite thing? Those FB statuses that try to guilt me, like: This is (insert worthy cause here) month! 93% of my friends won’t put this as their status because they’re gutless, insensitive meanies. Will you be among the 7% who will post this as your status and leave it for an hour?

    Sheesh, thanks. Guilt from my friends. Like I don’t get enough of that from my mother!

    And yeah, if I could give one friendly reminder to everyone who ever uses a computer? Snopes is your friend!

  9. Liesl

    The interesting thing about these scams is that I googled many of them because I know how gullible I am. The results? All scams, and there was even some information on what Facebook would really do if they were to put certain applications on it, like a dislike button. And I didn’t even have to look like an idiot or find out the hard way.
    .-= Liesl´s last blog ..Sunday Dinners: a field guide =-.

  10. Zina

    Okay, but there’s no harm in joining a group of people who would LIKE a DISLIKE button, as long as the group isn’t falsely promising it will happen. Who knows, maybe if enough people joined, Facebook actually would take note and make it happen.

    I’m not much of a joiner, though. I think I belong to like 6 or 7 groups, including one called “Bears in ill-fitting hats.” Which is (contrary to what you might think) a collection of images of bears in ill-fitting hats.

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