Abraham Lincoln once said, “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” See what we did there? The Internet is full of lies, yet too many for comfort are gullible enough to believe them without a second thought. Out of the thousands of lies published, shared, and commented on every day, here are 7 of our favorite hoaxes people have spread and commonly believed thanks to Facebook and the Internet.
1. Facebook Privacy Notice
This hoax has been going around for years now, and somehow people are still falling for it. The first of these privacy notice posts dates back to 2009 and are still being seen today near the end of 2016. The hoax involves a post on Facebook about how you do not give Facebook the right to blah, blah, blah. You can read the details in the post below.
2. Sandy Hook was a Hoax
Most of us remember the terrible incident that happened at Sandy Hook. A record-breaking school shooting occurred, killing several teachers and young students. To show how sick the world can be, people began publishing conspiracy theories around the incident, questioning whether the Sandy Hook tragedy had even happened or if it had been staged to help pass a law on gun rights. The rumor was this:
“The FBI revealed that no murders occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, proving the Sandy Hook massacre was an elaborate hoax.”
This rumor has since been discovered to be false. Lives really were lost at Sandy Hook.
3. Obama Isn’t a U.S. Citizen
Over the years, there have been plenty of fake stories about Obama, such as his plans to lower the drinking age to 18. Obviously, that one was a lie. But one rumor that went all over Facebook and other social media was that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. There was even a YouTube video of him saying he was born in Kenya! But did no one wonder why his mouth was strategically covered or turned away from the camera while he was speaking?
Today we have what is known as technology, which has the ability to make things appear how we want them. Have you ever seen one of those bad lip reading videos? Or how about the videos of famous people such as Obama singing a song? With the use of audio editing, people can actually put words into people’s mouths. While Obama may have said all those words in the video, they were never actually spoken in that order or even on the same day. They were manipulated. Newsflash: Obama wasn’t born in Kenya.
4. Jackie Chan’s Death
Believe it or not, Jackie Chan isn’t the only celebrity to have died at least once literally before their time. Thanks to a website called mediafetcher.com, which allows people to create their own news stories from a template, Jackie Chan’s death was announced while he was actually quite alive. -killed while filming a movie; false
The “news” reported:
“Hollywood Breaking News – Chinese Celebrity Superstar “Jackie Chan” died after perfecting a deadly stunt. Jackie Chan has fallen 12 stories high from a building. FBI are currently investigating to detect if any foul play was involved. Watch the original video of the deadly stunt and their effort to save Jackie Chan.”
In addition to this report, there were plenty others with more “details” on other social platforms. To calm everyone’s fears, Jackie Chan had to take a picture of himself pointing to the date on a newspaper to prove he was alive. Next time you ever hear of a celebrity death, check your resources before shedding any tears.
5. Election Day Schedule for Republicans and Democrats
The results of the 2016 Presidential election are already suspected to have been impacted by false rumors surrounding the election. One such rumor included Mayor Jefferson Riley of Mansfield, GA posting a message stating: “Remember the voting days: Republicans vote on Tuesday, 11/8 and Democrats vote on Wednesday, 11/9.” Other rumors going around were that you could vote online by liking a Facebook page, false quotes by the candidates, false poll numbers, and even that NBC accidentally released the results a week early. These are just a few of many false stories people shared on Facebook to sway their friends’ voting.
6. 15 Days of Darkness
If NASA said it’s happening, it must be. But did NASA actually say it? Or did someone else just say NASA said it? Along with a convincing picture of newscasters discussing “the 15 days of darkness,” several articles were published with the claim that earth will be dark for 15 days between November 15 and 29. This story actually went out last year and was updated to circulate again this year. The explanation is due to something about Venus, Jupiter, and lots of science terms, the world will experience what Alaskans have to occasionally deal with—no sun. One article ties it all up saying this will make this year’s after Thanksgiving shopping event a “true Black Friday.” It didn’t happen last year. And since it should be dark right now, this hoax didn’t come true this year either.
7. Hocus Pocus 2: Rise of the Elderwitch
Despite the number of people who shared the news as well as the lovely movie poster, the rumor that a Hocus Pocus sequel was coming is also a hoax. The rumor was that Disney confirmed the sequel was in production. Along with the poster, people were sharing a link to an IMDB post (a user-submitted one, that is) that displayed all the typical information you might see of a new release coming up. The web page stated:
“We cannot say that we saw this one coming. The Tracking Board is reporting that a sequel to the Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy comedic witch flick from 1993, Hocus Pocus, is officially on its way. Read on for the first details.
The original cast is not likely to be coming back. Allison Shearmur Productions has signed to produce Hocus Pocus 2: Rise of the Elderwitch. Tendo Nagenda and Jessica Virtue are executive producing at Disney.”
The sad thing is, people will still continue to be fooled and get excited about this sequel.
How to Spot a Facebook Hoax
Some people are very good at discerning real from fake, while others possess an equal level of gullibility. If you aren’t naturally skeptical of anything you see on the Internet, especially things that seem too good to be true, there a 3 ways to know for sure if what you’re seeing is true or a hoax:
- Look for a Disclaimer- Some of these misleading articles and news sites will admit they are fake in small print or at the bottom of their page. There are actually websites such as the Onion dedicated to creating false news to create what they think is humor. When it comes to the Internet: Don’t. Believe. Everything.
- Be Critical- Whenever you read something on the Internet that is either too good or too awful to be true, that’s your first warning sign it might be fake. Look at who published or shared the information. Is it a reputable source? (And, no, a Tweet isn’t reputable). Unless you can find actual proof, the story didn’t happen.
- Snopes It- If you ever have any doubt that something you hear or see on the Internet isn’t true, check out snopes.com where you can search for whatever rumor it is you’ve heard. If it’s a popular enough rumor, they should have already done the research for you to determine if the story is reliable or not.
The Internet can be a dangerous place for gullible and trusting people. A good lesson to learn from these Facebook hoaxes: always question the truth behind everything you see or hear on the Internet.