Five Viral Facebook Hoaxes to Avoid

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It’s that time of year again, when your not-so-tech-savvy mom, dad, uncle, or great-aunt falls prey to whatever nonsensical string of legal-sounding words is currently circulating on Facebook and shares an unnecessary but well-intended status about cybersafety. “Facebook will shut if you don’t share this post.” “Mark Zuckerberg is secretly a lizard person and he’ll steal your soul if you don’t share this post in 12 hours.” You get the idea.

This week, an oldie but goody is making the rounds, warning Facebook users that starting “tomorrow” everything they’ve ever posted on the platform will be made public. “Deadline tomorrow !!! Everything you’ve ever posted becomes public from tomorrow,” reads the very legit-sounding post. “Even messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed. It costs nothing for a simple copy and paste, better safe than sorry. Channel 13 News talked about the change in Facebook’s privacy policy.” In case it’s not abundantly clear, this post is a hoax. And if the clunky sentences weren’t enough to tip you off, Snopes debunked it years ago.

The worst part (or best, depending on your sense of humor) is: This is only one of dozens of Facebook hoaxes that move slowly through the platform’s vast network of well-intentioned, gullible users. Snopes — one of the last bright spots on the internet — has a page full of them. Here are five others to watch out for:

“Almost all the accounts are being hacked.”

According to this fun viral status (which popped up again last spring), somewhere in cyberspace pirates are creating a Facebook profile that looks just like yours to scam your friends out of money.

“You only have to buy ONE gift … and you will receive 36 in return!”

A classic chain-letter scam reborn in the spirit of the holidays. Send out a gift worth $10 or more and receive a mailbox full of dozens of gifts in return.

“Facebook will be closed down for maintenance on Tuesday.”

While taking a day away from Facebook might be good for your mental health, it’s certainly not going to be forced upon you by “Zuckerberger.” (Bonus points for such a creative spelling of Zuckerberg.)

“We at Facebook will be launching a ‘no swearing’ campaign.”

You’re good to keep cursing like a sailor and Facebook won’t delete your account. But I’ll be damned if this wasn’t a good hoax that concerned many of my cool swear-word-using pals on the internet back in the day.

“If it changes to Mark Zuckerberg it means your FB hasn’t been hacked.”

Actually, never mind. This one is totally legitimate. Please proceed to comment “@[4:0]” on all of your friends’ photos. They’ll love it.