In case you haven’t heard the word, the promise that Mark Zuckerberg would share his fortune with you if you shared a certain status has turned out to be nothing but a big, fat hoax.
Feeling a little sheepish for hitting the share button? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. And if you’re patting yourself on the back for skipping this scam, hold up just one second. If you’re on any social media site, odds are you’ve fallen for a scam or two, especially if it was posted by your friends and family.
You might have even felt compelled to copy and paste the posts and story links onto your own wall, you know, just to be safe… even though you were pretty sure it wasn’t a real thing. This compulsion is quite common, which is why the same social media hoaxes pop up every now and again, and continue to circulate.
It’s perpetuated by the “well if everyone else is doing it…” effect. If you see people you trust post something that looks legit at first glance, you’ll be more likely to follow suit. However, there have been so many things that turned out to be hoaxes in the past few years that people are finally starting to think twice before reposting. Here are seven of the most memorable social media hoaxes in recent years.
More: Avoid these internet scams
1. The Facebook copyright infringement post
No one wants to feel like their Facebook photos and profile information are for public use, so when this post came out back in 2012, many people fell victim to it. In fact, its message was so convincing, people continue to fall for it today.
As of September 28th , 2015 at 10:50p.m. 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 it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 and the 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 If you do not publish a statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates.
For anyone still dubious about this one, here’s Facebook’s response: “This is false. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been.”
2. Facebook is charging for privacy!
And here’s another privacy hoax, this time claiming that Facebook is going to start charging for privacy rights. According to Fortune, this one first surfaced back in 2009, and has since been resurrected several times since, despite Facebook’s repeated attempts to squash it.
Now it’s official! It has been published in the media. Facebook has just released the entry price: £5.99 ($9.10) to keep the subscription of your status to be set to “private.” If you paste this message on your page, it will be offered free (I said paste not share) if not tomorrow, all your posts can become public. Even the messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed. After all, it does not cost anything for a simple copy and paste.
I suppose it’s hard to argue with this one since it’s been “published in the media.”
3. The threat to leak Emma Watson’s nude photos
After her earth-shattering United Nations speech on women’s empowerment, someone who used an alias on 4chan threatened to upload real nude photos of Emma Watson online. This one felt pretty real considering how many crazy anti-feminists there are in the world, but in actuality, it was just a publicity stunt by marketing company Rantic.
4. The solar storm that threatened the world with six days of darkness
— CBC News (@CBCNews) November 5, 2015
Back in 2014, a science story went viral and had people stocking up on flashlights and batteries, at least at first. A website famous for publishing bogus news called Huzlers put out an article that said a “solar storm” would throw the earth into darkness from Dec. 16 to Dec. 22. And while it was definitely darker in parts of the world on those days, that was due to winter, not this strange and utterly fake phenomenon. But the rumor grew so widespread, that eventually NASA felt compelled to comment. On a story from a publication that sounds like “hustler.” Come on, people.
5. Diane in 7A
Now this one’s particularly disappointing, because it was such a great story. Millions of Twitter users delighted over tweets from Elan Gale, a producer for the Bachelor, about a supposed encounter he had with a rude woman on a plane home for Thanksgiving.
Sadly, he admitted later that the colorful Diane was no more than a character in his imagination he made up to amuse his followers. He couldn’t believe how many people actually believed it was true.
6. Macaulay Culkin and Betty White are dead
There have been too many celebrity death hoaxes over the years to count, but for some reason, last year’s Macaulay Culkin and Betty White death rumors hung on a bit longer. Perhaps it’s because White’s getting on in years, and Culkin’s a bit of a loose cannon? Regardless of the reason, Culkin’s response to the rumors was classic — he parodied the 1989 comedy Weekend at Bernie’s.
7. Apocalyptic pictures of Hurricane Sandy
As if the threat of such a huge storm wasn’t scary enough, people felt the need to post fake photos of the storm to scare the living daylights out of people. As with most of these fear-based hoaxes, they took off like wildfire. It probably didn’t help that East Coasters were shut in and looking for distractions online.
— Just 100% me (@AgnesKrasij) February 24, 2014