Posted by: David Harley | December 10, 2014

A hoax is not just for Xmas

Yesterday, I put up a new post on ESET’s WeLiveSecurity site, about Trust, Truth and Hoaxes in Social Media. The main point of the article was to address common misconceptions about Facebook’s right to control content that its subscribers post, with reference to a widely distributed but legally unhelpful disclaimer that people are posting to their wall in the hope of retaining control.

A couple of other issues are also addressed there: a widely distributed hoax message claiming that Facebook is trying to stop a nativity picture being posted (not the case), misleading photographs incorrectly labelled to persuade FB users in the UK that their MPs are only interested in debating their expenses and salaries, and a more-or-less-true but outdated warning about a premium rate scam that was current several years ago.

However, another story caught my eye today, one that claims that Loggers Accidentally Cut Down World’s Oldest Tree in Amazon Forest. Well, I don’t for a moment say that deforestation (legal or otherwise) isn’t a critical issue in the Amazon (and elsewhere), or that riding roughshod over the culture and beliefs of native communities never happens. But in this instance, the story comes from World News Daily Report, whose reputation for the accuracy of its reporting is non-existent. As, apart from Hoax-Slayer’s brutal analysis, you might also gather from the tone of its About Us page and various highly probable stories also to be found on the site such as Mexican Drug Smugglers Eaten Alive By Giant Squids After Boat Sinks Near Coast Of California  and Plastic Surgeon Gives Free Nose Jobs to Homeless for Christmas. 

I’m sure there must be a use for this sort of thing, but I can’t quite think what it might be. I guess I don’t have a future as a satirist. There again, given the behaviour of some MPs, maybe there isn’t a difference between satire and real life anymore.

David Harley
Small Blue-Green World


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