The Internet is easily one of the greatest technological innovations in human history. If you had told someone a mere thirty years ago that they were only a couple decades away from having a robot in their pocket that could make phone calls, send “letters”, show cat videos, and grant access to nearly all possible information the world has to offer, that person would think you are crazy. While having this incredible access to information is extremely useful, an almost equal amount of hoaxes, conspiracy theories, and misinformation is distributed through the Internet. There are satire news sites that aren’t always easy to distinguish from a real news outlet. To make matters worse, there are actual news sites that give the “news” with extreme and often untruthful political slants. It’s extremely easy to be fooled by something you’ve read on the Internet. There is also the added issue of individuals who purposefully create faux news for no reason other than to watch people freak out. Finally, the Internet is littered with scams that promise you things that will never be delivered. Long story short, it’s easy to be fooled while surfing the web.
While some Internet myths and hoaxes are very convincing, there are a number of myths and hoaxes that have been circulating on the web for years and years, and it’s so glaringly obvious that they’re fake. Somehow, every year, certain myths and hoaxes pop up again because large amounts of people still fall for these obvious shams. There is no excuse to fall for some of them. Let’s take a look at some of the Internet myths we absolutely need to stop falling for.
12. Click Here For A Free iPad/XBox/Playstation
Whenever a new piece of technology comes out, like an iPad or a new generation gaming console, you will most definitely see an ad on Facebook or a pop-up ad on another website that claims you can get that new piece of technology for free if you just “click here.” While some companies certainly do the occasional give-a-way, most of these are absolutely fake. In the case of iPad, Apple actually doesn’t allow other companies to use the word “free” when using their product as a prize or encouragement to do something for the company. If you see the word “free” next to “iPad”, you can be certain you’re clicking your way into a scam.
Generally, these scams use the free tech to lure you in and get you to spend more money on frivolous things (in the long term) than the device is worth.
11. The White House Calls Their Christmas Tree A Holiday Tree
This completely false claim began spreading its tentacles of misinformation right around the same time President Barrack Obama celebrated his first Christmas in the White House. As many readers probably know, there have been many claims that the President is Muslim and not even a citizen of the United States. Since these statements themselves aren’t true, things like this were created to manufacture dissent and add some validity to the claims. The false story also states that no religious-themed ornaments are to be hung on the tree. It’s pretty strange that this one continues to survive through every Christmas since each year claims this happened on that year. You would think someone who first read about the “story” two years ago would notice the discrepancy, but people share it every Christmas.
10. Facebook Finds A Nativity Scene Image Offensive
There is a growing trend in the United States where far-right Evangelical Christians think American Christians are somehow oppressed, constantly under fire, and of a dying breed. This couldn’t be further from the truth considering 83% of Americans identify themselves as being members of the Christian faith. To plant this idea in the minds of Americans, someone made the claim that Facebook deemed a picture of a nativity scene as offensive and have been removing it from Facebook. The reason this one is so infuriating is because the mere fact you’re looking at it and sharing it should be your first clue that it isn’t being removed or deemed offensive.
No one is 100% sure where this one started, but one theory is someone’s own friend reported the image as offensive in an attempt to “troll”. When the image was flagged as offensive, the original poster may have thought this was the work of Facebook directly.
9. Facebook Will Become A Pay Service
This one has been going around ever since Facebook first started becoming a widely used form of social media. There obviously isn’t a scam or anything involved here since no one really benefits from spreading information of this sort. The whole thing is really just an attempt to troll and see how many suckers fall for the thing.
What’s really funny about most people believing this one is the fact that when you log in to your Facebook account, the home page clearly states, “Sign up. It’s free and always will be.”
Granted, most people have probably forgotten about this due to the little fact that so many now use Facebook on their phone and are brought directly to their feed without seeing the login/sign-up page.
8. Make A Post Telling Facebook They Don’t Have Permission To Use Your Posts/Images
This is another one of those internet myths that don’t bring any real advantage to the individual(s) that started it other than an amount of “lulz” equivalent to the number of people that fall for it. The myth gets people to copy and paste some legal mumbo-jumbo that doesn’t allow Facebook to use their pictures or posts for Facebook’s own purposes. Right, like Facebook can benefit from your bathroom mirror selfie, the picture of the spaghetti you made, or your long-winded rant/post about how they should have never cancelled Friends.
Like many myths that creep their way through social media, this one comes and goes. You have probably seen a small grouping of your mutual friends posting it once every year.
7. Get Paid To Play Video Games
This is a scary one and it’s usually not linking you to a job playing video games; it’s usually leading you to an online school with a fly-by-night degree in game design. While many online schools have made huge strides in offering a decent education, game debugging and design isn’t nearly as fun or easy as playing them. It’s an extremely hard field to get into and anyone offering you a degree that is exclusively focused on gaming probably won’t get you any jobs and will likely saddle you with a lot of debt. If you have found a way to make a for-profit online school affordable to you, it is in your best interests to get a degree that can transfer well to remote education. Don’t get a degree in gaming, get a general degree in a computing field and take some gaming classes as electives.
6. Any Website With “News”, “Daily”, “Journal”, or “Times” In the Title Is Clearly Telling the Truth
This just might be the biggest problem with the Internet. Pseudo-news sites like Western Journalism, American News, and InfoWars are easily the biggest producers of myth and misinformation. A lot of people are under the impression that if they read it on a site with “News” in the title then it’s real news and it counts as a source. In the age of the Internet it is extremely important to not only have a source, but to test the credibility of said source. A lot of these sites don’t even have real journalists working for them. A random person can report something in any way they see fit and they get paid by the views. As long as the “story” can make the target audience angry and continue to keep clicking, these “news” sites are extremely happy. This method is fine when you’re simply trying to entertain with fluff pieces, but it becomes dangerous when people think they’re getting real facts about the world.
5. Recent School Shootings Have Been Staged To Garner Support For Gun Control
This one is just terrible. Every time there is a shooting involving a child or children you are guaranteed a number of Americans that honestly believe their guns are going to be taken away will concoct some sort of meme or faux-news article making outrageous claims that the event never actually happened or that the whole event was staged by anti-gun advocates. The logic behind the latter is “the anti-gun crowd is willing to kill a few kids for a greater good.” It’s sickening, it’s disrespectful, and anyone soft in the head enough to fall for something like this should be ashamed of themselves. If you really want to know if these claims are true, the issue seems big and important enough that it would be more prudent to take a road trip to the town in question rather than put all your faith in a hastily cobbled together image your buddy shared on social media.
4. (Celebrity Name) Is Dead
It doesn’t necessarily have to be Betty White. We’ve just chosen her because this one pops up every now and again. You can really just insert the name of any beloved and elderly celebrity. It was mentioned above that testing the credibility of your sources is a great way to wade through the muck of false information. If you’re already on the Internet and reading things like this, just do a Google search for the claim in question. If nobody else is talking about it (or everyone else seems to be giving a far different take on the subject) the chances are it isn’t true and your source isn’t credible. The fact of the matter is, a reputable and established news site is probably going to break stories like this before social media or a fly-by-night news site that registers its domain through godaddy.com.
3. Bill Gates Is Giving His Money Away
Do a quick Google search on “The Giving Pledge”. Along with names like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, David Rockefeller, and George Lucas, Bill Gates is one of a number of extremely wealthy individuals that have signed said pledge. The pledge is a promise made by some of the world’s wealthiest individuals to give most of their money away in the name of philanthropy. Bill already gives billions of dollars away; the idea of him needing to finally “give back to the people” is ludicrous. It’s also important to mention the fact that the note Bill is holding up in the famous and widely shared image is so obviously photo-shopped.
2. 1,000 Likes Will Get A Poor Child A Heart Transplant
These are pretty terrible since they use sick children to make a few bucks. You probably scroll past several of these a day while getting up to date on your social media sites. The goal of these posts are to get people to “like” or “share” the image so it spreads (along with a link) out to as many people as possible. When an individual clicks on the link in hopes of learning more about the situation, they are generally taken to unrelated external websites, filled to the brim with a veritable plethora of money making scams and malware. If you want to make a difference in a dying child’s life, the best way to go about that is the old fashioned way:
Write a check out to a charity of your choosing.
1. Gigantic Versions Of Small Animals
There isn’t much that can be said about this one. Every couple of months you probably see an image of a 100-foot-long snake some farmer and his son in a remote third-world fishing village found in the lake. You probably see images of giant (and obviously photo-shopped) spiders like this one too. While there are a number of strange creatures running around on this planet, some just aren’t real. If you’re looking at an image of a rat the size of a great dane, or you’re looking at an image of a little girl being carried away by a giant raven, chances are it’s false. Here is a simple test you can run to check the validity of these claims and images:
Does the animal in question look more like something that comes from the wizarding world of Harry Potter? If the answer is “yes”, then you should probably keep scrolling.