Stop the madness
by Robert Joseph Baker | January 1, 2016 8:09 am
Last Updated: December 31, 2015 at 5:10 pm
So, by now one of you out there should be millions of dollars richer.
No, no one won the lottery in Clarendon County. But Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg surely gave away 4.5 percent of his billion-dollar stock as posts on his creation touted throughout December.
Perhaps you saw the message, which was posted ad nauseum over the Christmas holidays”
“THANK YOU, MARK ZUCKERBERG, for your forward-thinking generosity!
And congrats on becoming a dad!
Mark Zuckerberg has announced that he is giving away $45 billion of Facebook stock. What you may not have heard is that he plans to give 10 percent of it away to people like YOU and ME! All you have to do is copy and paste this message into a post IMMEDIATELY and tag 5-10 of your friends. At midnight PST, Facebook will search through the day’s posts and award 1,000 people with $4.5 million EACH as a way of saying thank you for making Facebook such a powerful vehicle for connection and philanthropy.
I hope someone I know gets a piece of the pie—let me know if you do!!!”
By about the 10th time I saw this message on my Facebook feed, I just had to look up into the heavens and cry, “Lord, help,” as my friend, Jeffrey Lampkin, would say.
Where to begin? Aside from the fact that this message began circulating in early December, shortly after Zuckerberg announced Dec. 1 the birth of his first child, one thing immediately glaring in the post is that it never tells you which day this windfall is supposed to happen.
Add to that the liberal use of CAPS LOCK and exclamation points and you’ve got yourself one train wreck of a chain letter.
And while the initial posts left it at that, several began circulating – again over Chrismtas, as noted previously – which appended the following assurances for skeptics like yours truly.
“This is absolutely true!!! It was on Good Morning America.”
Um, no. It wasn’t. Just stop, please. And again, with the exclamation points.
Zuckerberg was never on “Good Morning America.” What was reported on the show, however, was the birth of his child and his promise as celebration of that birth to give away $45 billion in Facebook stock to charity.
ABC’s flagship morning show, I told a friend on Facebook the other day as we were chatting about the hoax. This friend said another woman had, directly to her face, chided her for doubting the post, saying it “had to be true because it was on Good Morning America.”
“She was just adamant about it,” said my friend, who admitted herself to having shared the post. “It seemed too good to be true, but I figured it was false. But I just kept thinking, ‘What if … ‘”
And that’s where the hoax gets you: Everyone wants that quintessentially American Dream of getting rich quick and quitting your job, or only working for the hell of it, and not having to live paycheck-to-paycheck and being able to buy your loved ones grand surprises without having to stick to a budget.
I get it. I really do. I wish that it were true, and I truly wish that 1,000 of you out there would have received $4.5 million each.
But you didn’t. And you won’t. You never will. You have more of a chance winning millions playing the lottery, which has terrible odds.
This certainly isn’t the first post to promise a grand monetary windfall if you just repost this message and tag your friends. And there are so many variations.
My particular favorite are the ones that post a Bible verse and then outlandishly, but firmly state, “97 percent of Facebook users won’t post this. Share if you’re a fan of Jesus.”
First of all, where did you come up with that statistic? Did you perform an actual scientific study with controlled variables?
Second, most of the country identifies as Christian – you can argue all you want about denominations and whether this one over here is truly Christian or not. But with a majority of Americans identifying as Christian, no way are 97 percent of Facebook users not going to share that post.
And the proof I have is the fact that I see it all over my Facebook feed whenever one invariably shows up.
I also love the ones people post about large companies giving away free merchandise, where the hoax immediately calls off any speculation with a note at the end saying, “This is not a hoax. It is on snopes.com as verified.”
I saw one several years ago when the iPhone 5S was still just being talked about, and people were posting right and left that Apple had a brand-new, never released iPhone it would give to 1,000 people picked at random from folks who shared the post.
And there followed this quote:
“This is absolutely 100% true!!! It has been verified by snopes.com.”
And then people went nuts and shared it all over the place, when had they just clicked on snopes.com (most web browsers and even the Facebook app on most mobile phones will activate any weblink in a post), they could easily see that, no, it hasn’t been verified.
Everyone just needs to calm down when they see these posts, and take a step back and head to snopes.com and do some research. If it’s not on snopes.com quite yet, go to Google and type in some keywords. This goes for emails as well. Most chain emails have stopped over the last few years (at least in my inbox), but I still see one from time to time.
Just think before you reshare. Don’t give into the madness.
Don’t give into all the exclamation points.