Goofiest Facebook hoaxes

Blue tigers, Bieber sex tapes and Charlie Sheen’s untimely death - these are a few of my favorite Facebook hoaxes

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Wait - Hugh Hefner is still alive? Wait - Hugh Hefner is an admiral?

REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Hopefully, by now, all of us Facebook users have been clued in to the fact that we can’t assert a copyright to all the junk - er, thoughtful content - that we share there via a wall post. This was a hoax that first went around (and was debunked) in May but, for some reason, came back again (with a vengeance) in the last week. It’s subsequently been debunked again (with a vengeance).

This latest incident just serves to remind me what a powerful tool Facebook is, for sharing not just updates and family photos with friends, but also lies, viruses, worms and (for all I know) STDs. While these types of things happen on other social networks as well, there’s something about Facebook (probably just the sheer number of people on it) that seem to make a particularly frequent target. It may also just be me, but since my Facebook network is more personal, made up of more people I’ve actually known in real life, than on other social networks, there’s something kind of interesting to see who falls for these things.

Why? Because, frankly, it can be funny. Now, I’m not talking about people falling for the kinds of hoaxes or scams that can do any real damage or hurt, of which there certainly are some. No, I’m talking about hoaxes like the one going around this week, that really are harmless but which, when someone falls for it, can make me chuckle (unless I’m the one falling for it). Mostly, these involve silly rumors or doctored photographs that people believe and share, which feels like the digital equivalent of someone falling for the old black-eye-binoculars bit. 

Here, then, are my favorite (harmless) goofy Facebook hoaxes:

  • Photoshopped animal pictures - People love animals, and they, apparently, really love photoshopping pictures of animals and sharing them on Facebook. From blue tigers to black lions to three-headed snakes or extremely large tortoises, there’s no shortage of faux animal pics being shared. Seriously - a blue tiger? Pink, I could see, but blue? Come on.
  • Dead celebrity rumors - A few months back my wife looked up from her computer and said “Morgan Freeman died!” I said, “Really?” and quickly checked the news online and found out it wasn’t true; it was one of many dead celebrity rumors that seem to regularly go around on Facebook (and Twitter). Whether it’s Hugh Hefner (wait - he’s actually still alive?), Charlie Sheen (wait - he’s actually still alive, too?), or Rihanna, there’s something about social media that prompts us to greatly exaggerate the rumors of their demise. 
  • Justin Bieber stories - Seriously, what good is Facebook if we can’t use it to poke fun at America’s favorite tween-heartthrob? As the parent of two t(w)eenaged girls, I can’t help but take extra interest when I read posts about the Biebs being stabbed (how shall I break this to the girls?) or having a laptop with his SEX TAPE stolen (wait - has he even hit puberty yet?) or comforting a concert-goer who was raped. Do we really need to make him more dreamy than he already is?

 

Of course, as much as I enjoy seeing who amongst my friends falls for these things, it will all be coming to an end soon, since Facebook is closing down. Seriously. I read that on Facebook.

Have you fallen for any of these? Are there others that I’m missing? Please share in the comments.

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