Friday, March 21, 2014


Thank you to Dylan Does for this image
It used to be easy to recognize a scam.  They would come in the email, from a Nigerian princess who had been somehow disconnected with her family fortune.  Or else they would be selling a gel made of “snail gel slime” that was proven to noticeably reduce the signs of aging.

Now scams are different – they seek information more frequently than they do money.  They come to us as programs, designed to collect data about what makes us click – like – or share.  Facebook is full of them. 

The absolute JOY of facebook is that you can have quick contact to see how everyone’s doing.  Now and then, there’s a great pic of a nephew with a trophy or a tree in the front yard.  Those are private pics that you are seeing and may or may not have permission to share. 

A MEME is an internet idea or picture that spreads quickly through sharing.  The word MEME  literally means ‘non-organic imitation’, and is usually a picture or video that has been made and then re-made and then circulated because of a charming popularity.  Most modern internet memes come from a host (or a generator).  They have a huge range: most are humor-centered (my favorite is the  Numa Numa Dance).  Then there are political memes (Michelle Bachman’ Queen of Rage; Obama’s Jedi mind tricks), angry memes (alltheragefaces) and animal  shock-value ones (shocking images of animals in cages, being starved, etc…)  In a few cases, a meme can start with bored and useless viral clicking (“click this to see what happens!”). 

They’re brilliant marketing strategies, but they’re still junk mail, chain letters, and scams.  Here’s how to spot them and how to react (or not react). 

1.  My Daughter is the Most Amazing Survivor and We are Best Friends!!   Share if you love your daughter.
I love my daughter ( I love all of my kids).  I love her so much that I want her to know that I can pick up the phone and call her to tell her I love her.   The little picture with flowers and hearts is  designed for one purpose: to be shared and to count how many times it is shared. 

When you SHARE A MEME – remember that it probably doesn’t come from a reliable news or entertainment source.   You might want to check out the site before you share it.  While there, check out the ads on that page. 

Most of the time, memes are generated with the intention of compiling statistics, a computer program whose job is to count how many times this silly little something goes around your viral world. 

2.  LIKE if you want this free car, iphone or salon makeover

The Facebook “like” button is a powerful thing.  It captures data (information) each time  you click the button on the page.

“Liking” you Uncle’s party pics with your Aunt’s side of the family is not the same as “liking” a stereo company to win a free giveaway!  The free giveaway used to be known in the USA.  My father used to smirk and say “How much is free?”

Free tablets, a gift card, the chance of winning a super-smart - fancy phones… with only one condition. You have to give the "company" your information – or say they have access to facebook data.   Sometimes they tell you (once you’re already in) that you should download something if you want to qualify.

Beware these scams, especially when they ask for contact information.   Entering your phone number often leads to phishing or unknown charges that might appear on your phone bill.

Some companies do give away free stuff through Facebook, but when they do it's usually on their  official Facebook page.  Most of the time they will steer you toward a website that tells more about the company, contact information, a list of rules for contestants, etc.   Scammers like to make their websites look like the real company, but the FCC forbids them to use the real company’s logo. 

Nothing is free.  There, I said it – now you know.

3.  This boy with cancer want to see if this can circulate the globe – click share to make his dream come true!

There is most likely some truth in the story, but if you want to know the whole truth, do a google search.  Back out of facebook  for a second and google the kids’ name. 

Usually (if it’s real) the child (or person) has a website.  Even so, beware.  This scam is one of the oldest in the book and people fall for it (sadly) because they have hearts of compassion. 

4.  These animals are abused and mistreated.  SHARE if you have a heart – DELETE if you are cold hearted and agree with them.

I have enough guilt trips in my life without having to log on to facebook to be slapped with them.  I am always amazed by people who share these.  Good people who obviously care for animals, but without thinking that these animals are being exploited twice. 

Want to bring awareness?  Go to a reputable site, like World Wildlife Fund, and share a page from their website.  If someone else shares this, it is now something that has been well-researched and has truth in it. 
The sensational  and deceptive pictures that are used by the people who are trying to count your clicks are nothing more than exploitation.

Know this and move on.

Here’s 3 rules of thumb when you’re sharing on twitter, facebook, google plus, etc.

  • ·         SHARE only reputable sites – you’ll know them by their advertisements.
  • ·         DON’T click  – if you like a picture or video, find it  on the web, and then share it. 
  • ·         SHARE responsibly!!  Every photo you share (if you haven’t taken it) has to have some kind of photo credit.  Make sure you share what you have permission to share!

That’s my two cents, anyway.
Oh, and share this blog.  ;)

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