Internet hoaxes: easily seen, easily believed

Browse wisely and save yourself from embarrassment (and viruses). Photo by Sarebear:), Flickr.

Admit it, you’ve fallen for an Internet hoax. You’ve passed on a chain email because you were scared if you didn’t, you’d be alone forever. You clicked on that Facebook link offering a $500 gift card, and then spent the next few days deleting all the spam from your wall. Don’t worry, we’ve all done it.

Browse wisely and save yourself from embarrassment (and viruses). Photo by Sarebear:), Flickr.

In recent news, U.S. Olympian Kate Hansen posted a video that caused a stir worldwide. The media was full of so-called “Sochi fails,” ranging from unfinished hotel rooms to bright yellow water coming from taps, but Hansen’s video was about to blow them all out of the water. She wrote on her YouTube page, “I’m pretty sure this is a wolf wandering my hall in Sochi,” and guess what? The video actually showed a wolf outside her door.

The stunt was later discovered to have been organized by late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel, but not before it went viral.

In 2013, Kimmel pulled a similar stunt with his “twerk fail” video that showed a girl twerking against a door, then falling onto a candle-covered table as her hair caught fire.  People on the Internet went crazy, until they realized they’d been fooled.

Nowadays, we will believe almost anything we see on the web, and people are quick to take advantage of our naiveté. Whether it’s comedians or online pranksters, we’re constantly bombarded by fake content and the problem is that people consistently believe it.

It’s not that we’re getting more stupid, we’re just getting lazy.

In this day and age, we have access to whatever we want in a matter of seconds. We can get news sent directly to our smartphones within minutes of it happening. We don’t have to put any effort into looking for information, so we’ve stopped trying.

That’s how we’ve become so gullible—our laziness is being taken advantage of. Internet trolls know that most of us won’t bother checking the facts, and as soon as people start sharing a ridiculous story, their job is done. If years of being in school have taught us anything, it’s that the Internet isn’t always a trustworthy source.

We all need to start thinking logically. Do your research before believing everything you read. If you stumble upon an article about Pauline Marois wanting to open a Quebecois-only blood bank, look into where the article came from. You know the story I’m talking about, it was all over social media a few months ago. People were so quick to share it in disgust that they didn’t even check the source. As it turns out, The Lapine, the website the story originated from, was a satirical news outlet.

Most importantly, use your common sense. Do you really think Zara would give a $500 gift card to every person who shared something on Facebook? Or that there’s actually a disorder called “Alexandria Genesis” that causes people to have purple eyes, immunity to most diseases, a perfect figure, and flawless porcelain skin? One quick Google search can save you from a lot of potential embarrassment.

Always remember, if it seems too good (or too crazy) to be true, it probably isn’t.


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