Got your attention? Good, of course I’m not referring to your kid, your kid is awesome. We’ll get back to my gentleman’s sausage later.
What I am referring to is stuff I see posted on Facebook and Twitter all the time from my friends that asks to “re-post or re-tweet this as your status to spread the word”. Look, information on here can spread like wildfire, hence the term “viral”. Please for the love of all that is holy take 5 minutes and at least research what you are thinking about posting.
It’s like being in high school all over again. One person starts a rumor and tells a couple people, then they tell at least a couple more people, and the chain continues. With tools like Facebook, you can potentially hit tens of thousands of people within just a few minutes. I thought for a brief moment about starting a false rumor just to prove this point, but the thing is…just like crop circles, once the originator of the hoax comes forward, there are still people who want to believe in the lie regardless of what evidence is placed before them.
What sparked this posting today was a friend of mine posted a similar post stating there was an amber alert for a missing child. Look, nobody wants to see an abducted child not be found, but think about it. REALLY think about it. If the amber alert system were to use Facebook or Twitter to get the word out quickly, they would at minimum have the post contain a link to their official website so that the information can be backed up.
The post in question today had an individuals license plate number, and stated it was an extremely young child, doesn’t matter how old. Add insult to injury to tug on everyone’s heart strings, they stated it was a little girl. OUCH! How on earth could any heartless bastard NOT want to save this child, I must get that information out YESTERDAY!
Now, I am going to give you an example that will quite literally make you shudder because it could happen to anyone. Let’s say that the originator of the rumor was a pissed off ex, or someone going through a divorce. Worse yet, what if it was an upset ex after a divorce that didn’t want to allow visitation rights and their former partner had just picked up the child and was on their way to see the Ice Capades or catch a baseball game? Can you see some paranoid parent calling the police as soon as they see that license plate to report a missing child? Sadly, the police, as is usually the case, will shoot from the hip and instead of taking the 5 minutes to actually research something, would merely respond. Humiliating the innocent person in question, possibly even taking them back to the station, placing them under arrest…for what, because someone with a chip on their shoulder wanted revenge?
The user base for Facebook is over half a billion people worldwide, Twitter is over 200 million, and I’m not exaggerating. However those of us who use Facebook and Twitter with regularity typically tend towards being in the age demographic of under 40. Which means that in this particular example it’s pretty targeted to people who are parents.
Now this particular example is from the standpoint of social engineering utterly brilliant, because it is going to specifically target, no offense ladies, young mothers who will speak before they think. It’s no fault of yours, it’s how we have evolved as a species. That whole protect the young thing and all. Guys have a similar response too, just mess with our woman and see what happens. Girls may get upset that we are so amped up and ready to take stuff to fists, but it’s the way we are wired. Just accept it, and deal.
I am 100% of the time able to debunk any of these false rumors, and this is no exaggeration by any means, within 5 minutes. For instance today’s rumor. Amber alert. Guess what I simply searched Google for? You got it, and once on the official government page for amber alerts, it stated, “There are currently no active Amber Alerts”. That took me less than one minute, and I promptly replied back to the originator of the post that is was a hoax, and linked the accurate information.
Perhaps I should do something like refer to my man-horn three times to imprint a memorable event or start a rumor that I do in fact have the world’s most desirable pogo stick. Hmmm, the possibilities.