Faceboozled: The Facebook Hoaxes That Duped Your Gullible Friends (and Likely Will Again)

Josh WolfordSocial Media

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"You can't believe everything that you read, and that goes double for stuff on Facebook." - Mark Zuckerberg*

Recently, a very old and very stupid hoax made the rounds on Facebook. It wasn't the first time, and you can be certain that it won't be the last time. Facebook hoaxes have a zombie-like quality to them, and there's no cure for the disease because the disease is stupidity and that's not curable. Still, even the most skeptical among us can find ourselves on the wrong end of a Facebook hoax. What the hell, I'll share it – better safe than sorry, right?

Wrong. If it smells like crap, it's probably most definitely crap.

Even if you think you're too smart to ever fall for what amounts to a more annoying chain email, keep reading. For your sake, let's say this serves as less of a warning and more of a walk down memory lane – a stroll through a street where all of your idiot friends live.

These Facebook hoaxes have come and gone, and will more than likely appear again at some point.

The I'm a lawyer and you can't have my stuff hoax

This violation of privacy can be punished by law ? UCC 1-308-11 308-103? Facebook is now a public entity? Looks like someone knows their internet law. One of the oldest and most-recurring hoaxes on Facebook – the privacy notice hoax – is the most recent to make the rounds on a large scale. The specifics of the hoax message are altered slightly each time it resurfaces, but the general premise is the same every time.

Basically, the hoax warns that in order to protect your intellectual property (posts, photos, videos, whatever), you must post a status declaring it impermissible for Facebook to use your stuff.

Here's what such a message looks like:

Better safe than sorry. The news was just talking about this change in Facebook’s privacy policy. As of January 5th, 2015 at 6:45am eastern standard time, I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future. By this statement, I give notice to Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute or take any other action against me based on this profile, which is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308-11 308-103 and Rome statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you do not publish this statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as information contained in the profile status updates. DO NOT SHARE you MUST copy and paste to make this status. I will leave a comment so it will be easier to copy and paste!!!

Very legalese, huh?

By signing up for Facebook, you already agree to let Facebook do this very thing. It's in the terms of service. Not only that, but posting something as a Facebook status doesn't make it so. Life would be a lot cooler if it did, but it doesn't work like that.

Hoax stupidity rating: 6 Zucks

The Facebook isn't going to be free anymore hoax

"Facebook is a free site and will never require that you pay to continue using the site."

That's taken word for word from Facebook's help page on new accounts. You may not trust Facebook all of the time, but you should trust them on this. Facebook is never going to charge you for the basic use of the site. Can you give Facebook money? Sure, of course you can – app purchases, Facebook gifts (now defunct), etc.

But will you ever have to pay to browse your news feed?

No.

That doesn't stop the paid Facebook hoax, which appears from time to time across the site. The latest breakout happened a few months ago when a "satirical" news site (read: liars) published an article claiming that Facebook was preparing to charge $2.99 per month for the service. You may remember it as that one article your mom shared. Twice.

"Facebook is a free site and will never require that you pay to continue using the site" - Facebook.

nev·er /ˈnevər/ adverb: at no time in the past or future; on no occasion; not ever.

Hoax stupidity rating: 6 Zucks

The well that was fun while it lasted, Facebook is shutting down for good hoax

Facebook's revenue for the third quarter of 2014 totaled $3.2 billion, an increase of 59% year-over-year. The company's stock price has been steadily climbing for a year and a half now. It can currently boast over 1.3 billion users worldwide.

And the site is just gonna have to shut down 'cause there's just too dang many of you.

That's the logic behind another common hoax – the Facebook shutting down hoax. Like the privacy notice hoax, this one usually comes with a copypasta message that one MUST post as a status update ... or else.

It has looked like this in the past:

Dear Facebook members, Facebook is supposed to be closing down March 15th because it is becoming very overpopulated. There have been many members complaining that Facebook is becoming very slow. Records show that there are many active Facebook members and also many new members. We will be sending this message around to see if members are active or not. If you are active please send to 15 other users using copy+paste to show that you are still active. Those who do not send this message within 2 weeks will be deleted without hesitation to make more space. Send this me>ssage to all of your friends to show that you are still active and you will not be deleted. Founder of Facebook. Remember to send this to 15 other people so your account wont be deleted.

Trust me, Facebook knows if you're active or not. It also knows that you very just looking at buying a new pair of pants on Amazon, but stopped just before checkout, and that you sure would like to be reminded of that fact with an ad. But that's another story.

This hoax first appeared many years ago, and has popped back up a few times since 2011. At one point, the hoax spread enough to force Facebook to issue a statement of sorts on the matter.

Facebook will probably outlive you, sadly. As will Mark Zuckerberg and his baby-eating regimen.**

Hoax stupidity rating: 9 Zucks

The Facebook Drug Task Force hoax

Though it's probably a good idea to avoid making your drug buys on Facebook, you don't need to worry about the admittedly scary-sounding entity known as the Facebook Drug Task Force.

This hoax has only seen widespread attention once – last August – but you can be pretty sure that it'll rear its ugly head again at some point. An article on another one of those "satire" sites made the rounds last year, claiming that Facebook was going to start monitoring all messages with a special unit called the Facebook Drug Task Force.

Panic ensued, and the story scared people enough that they were able to ignore the completely unbelievable elements to the story – mainly all of it, but especially references to a "corporately held jail cell" for offenders.

 

Hoax stupidity rating: 5 Zucks (only because the DEA is totally impersonating people on Facebook, so this isn't that much of a stretch)

The Facebook is going to donate $X to cancer babies for every share! hoax

Sharing something on Facebook can shed light on a social malady and raise awareness for its cause – but that's all it's going to do. Facebook is never going to donate any money to a cause just because you shared a photo.

Whether it's starving kids, a mermaid girl, or an injured boy who was shot by his stepfather, your share is not going to help - at least on a monetary level. If you want to do your research and find out whether or not the story behind the hoax is actually real (it probably isn't), that's a worthwhile use of your time. If it turns out to be real, there'll surely be a real donation page.

Hoax stupidity rating: 7 Zucks

The you're gonna get to see someone nekkid hoax

The promise of seeing someone without their clothes on, possibly touching another person who also finds themselves sans clothing, has caused plenty of dumb decisions. I won't act like sharing a Facebook video is the worst of these, but it ain't good.

Whether it's a Rihanna sex tape, or just some random girl whom "you won't believe what she's wearing in the grocery!"

Spreading this type of hoax is often more dangerous than just annoying, as clicking on the links usually results in some sort of phishing attempt or malware install.

If someone's peddling porn on Facebook, ignore. There are plenty of other places on the internet for that.

Hoax stupidity rating: 4 Zucks

The Facebook Gold hoax

Ah, Facebook Gold: The elite club you never knew you wanted to join. This hoax suggests that users can, if they want, pay a certain price to activate a "Facebook Gold" membership. Either that or share a message like this to their friends:

It’s official. Communication media. FACEBOOK has just published its price. fee of $? ($ 9.99), to become a member of “gold” and keep your privacy as it is. If you paste this on your wall will be completely free. Otherwise, tomorrow all your documents can become public. Even those messages that you have deleted or photos that you have not authorized …… not cost you anything, copy and paste

Either way you get Facebook Gold (free or paid), the point is that it protects you from having your private info dumped on the web for all to see.

As always, if it sounds ridiculous, it is ridiculous. This kind of ties in to a previously-discussed hoax, as Facebook is never going to make you pay to use the service for any reason. Facebook also will never make all of your private information public – at least not on their terms.

Hoax stupidity rating: 7 Zucks

The someone is going to give YOU money hoax

Remember this picture?

In the winter of 2013, that image of former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates was shared millions upon million of times on Facebook. Why? Why not is a better question. The one-time richest man in the world is going to give me $5,000? Just for clicking the share button once? That's so awesome it's nearly unbelievable!

Of course, this is the line of thinking that gets you into trouble. Turns out, the viral image was simply a poorly-executed photoshop job.

It's not just the super-rich who want to give you, ordinary Joe, impressive sums of money on Facebook. Ordinary Joes who just won the lottery want to give you money too!

Nobody, other than your grandparents, want to give you money.

Hoax stupidity rating: 10 Zucks

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Well that was fun. What did I miss? What's the dumbest Facebook hoax you've seen someone fall for?

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*Did Mark Zuckerberg really say that? No, of course not.
** Also not true.

Josh Wolford

Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer.

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