6 Steps to a Good Facebook Hoax

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[NOTE: This is a joke. It's obviously a joke. I don't want you to create your own Facebook hoax. While they may be entertaining, they are also serious. They were created maliciously with the full intent to deceive you, make a fool of you, and see a social virus spread. I am posting this partly to entertain and partly to educate so that we can stop falling for this garbage. A hoax-free Facebook is a better Facebook.]

snopes1 6 Steps to a Good Facebook Hoax

If you're not sure whether something is a Facebook hoax, PLEASE go to Snopes.com first to research it before you repost.

Over the years, Facebook has gone through its quarterly changes. The UI may change, your profile may change to a Timeline, your groups may change to a page, and your two news feeds may change to one (plus a Ticker). But one thing never changes: Hoaxes will always spread. And you just… can’t… stop them.

It’s amazing, really. I never understood how they worked. They always seemed so obviously false. Yet good intentioned — and often intelligent — Facebook users fall for it. They copy, paste and spread the Hoax to their friends. And there will always be a few of their friends who will do the same. And a few of theirs, and a few of theirs, and a few of theirs…

Eventually, you have a full-blown hoax. If you haven’t copied and pasted it, you’ve seen it. And for that, you have to respect the hoax-atiers. There is something impressive about getting people to do something in support of a status update that makes no rational sense.

But I’ve figured it out, folks. There’s a formula here. A secret sauce. And I’m going to share it with you. Then you, too, can run your own hoaxes. But, please. Only use it for Facebook Good.

(After these tips, see my recommendation for a new Facebook Hoax. Again, only use it for good. Thanks!)

1) USE ALL CAPS AND LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!!
You are freaked out, you are angry, and — dammit — you mean business. No self-respecting Facebook hoax will use proper punctuation and use of the CAPS LOCK KEY (wait, that doesn’t exist anymore — but roll with it). It’s a good way to distract people. It’s telling them, IGNORE THE CONTENT OF THIS STATUS AND JUST FEEL THE EMOTION!!!! IT’S URGENT!!!!

Let’s try it out.

Puppies are evil. They will crawl in through your sewers and murder you in your sleep.

PUPPIES R EVIL THEY WILL CRAWL IN THROUGH YER SEWERS AND MURDER U IN YOUR SLEEP!!!!!!!

See? The first one isn’t serious. Who says that?

But the second one? It means business. I don’t even know what it said. But it’s angry, and SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE ABOUT THOSE EVIL PUPPIES!!!

2) Scare the crap out of people
Make sure that within the first sentence, you do a proper job of scaring the reader. A scared person rarely uses good judgment. When we’re scared, we ignore punctuation, grammar, logic and reality. So focus on stuff that will freak people out the most. Focus on money, privacy or kids. Using all three typically isn’t believable, but if you can pull it off you deserve the Hoax MVP.

3) Be strangely specific
It doesn’t have to be logical. Just give specific details so it sounds like you aren’t making it up. “Honey, the post says that Mark Zuckerberg is going to charge $14.47 per month for Facebook. Who says that? It must be true!”

4) Give detailed steps on how to fix the “problem”
Once again, the steps don’t have to make any logical sense. But they need to work. It’s like an optical illusion. Something like this…

GO TO PRIVACY SETTINGS AND THEN HOW TO CONNECT. IF FOR WHO CAN POST ON YOUR TIMELINE IT SAYS FRIENDS,,,THIS IS A VIRUS! CHANGE IT TO PUBLIC IMMEDIATELY!!!

5) Say “it happened to me!”
This, I think, is where people really get had. While the friend didn’t write this update with their own words, it looks like it was. And this is a person you trust. So if they say it happened to them, it must be true. It must be bad. And you must do something about it.

6) Ask for the copy and paste!
This is like closing on the sale for Hoax-atiers. You can’t do steps 1-5 without asking for the copy and paste. Otherwise, it will never spread.

My Suggested Hoax


Alright. This has taken a lot of thought. But I am applying what I’ve learned over the last four years on Facebook, and here is my suggested hoax. Use it only for Facebook good.

IMPORTANT!!! WARNING!!!! WARNING!!! RE-POST NOW!!! A FACEBOOK VIRUS IS SPREADING THROUGH NEWS FEEDS!!! IT HAPPENED TO ME AND IT MAY HAVE HAPPENED TO YOU!!! IF YOU SEE A STATUS UPDATE THAT IS IN ALL CAPS WITH STRANGE PUNCTUATION AND ASKS YOU TO COPY AND PASTE IT INTO YOUR OWN STATUS UPDATE,,, IT IS A VIRUS!!! IT WILL SPREAD TO YOUR BRAIN AND MAKE YOU DO STRANGE,,, IRRATIONAL,,, STUPID THINGS!!! TO FIX THIS,,, WHEN YOU GET THE VIRUS WRITE THIS COMMENT IN THE STATUS: “This… is dumb.” THEN GO TO THE RIGHT CORNER OF YOUR BROWSER,,, CLICK THE ARROW AND SCROLL DOWN TO THE OPTION FOR LOG OUT. CLICK IT!!! THAT FIXED THE PROBLEM FOR ME AND IT IT WILL FIX IT FOR YOU TOO!!! DON’T LET THIS VIRUS SPREAD!!! IT HAPPENED TO ME AND IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!!! PLEASE RE-POST!!!

Do what you will with it. Create your own. But, please. Never be malicious.

Favorite Hoaxes

To call a hoax a “favorite” may be going a bit far… But they’re always more fun in retrospect. It’s amazing that such a horribly written post with no logic whatsoever can get passed on and passed on and passed on and passed on…

I got these from Snopes.com. They do a good job of investigating these viral status updates and verifying whether or not there is any truth to them (which, typically, there is none whatsoever). Amazingly, it’s only a very small sampling of Facebook hoaxes.

Without further adieu, here are some of my favorites…

It’s gonna cost ya!

FACEBOOK JUST RELEASED THEIR PRICE GRID FOR MEMBERSHIP. $9.99 PER MONTH FOR GOLD MEMBER SERVICES, $6.99 PER MONTH FOR SILVER MEMBER SERVICES, $3.99 PER MONTH FOR BRONZE MEMBER SERVICES, FREE IF YOU COPY AND PASTE THIS MESSAGE BEFORE MIDNIGHT TONIGHT. WHEN YOU SIGN ON TOMORROW MORNING YOU WILL BE PROMPTED FOR PAYMENT INFO…IT IS OFFICIAL IT WAS EVEN ON THE NEWS. FACEBOOK WILL START CHARGING DUE TO THE NEW PROFILE CHANGES. IF YOU COPY THIS ON YOUR WALL YOUR ICON WILL TURN BLUE AND FACEBOOK WILL BE FREE FOR YOU. PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON IF NOT YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE DELETED IF YOU DO NOT PAY !

Analysis: This is textbook hoax. Really good use of unnecessary caps. Trying to scare people by saying they’re gonna have to pay for Facebook. And the strangely specific details about the price grid and blue icon are impressive. That said, the blue icon is a major risk here — since it doesn’t work, it endangers the “legitimacy” of the hoax. Amazingly, no one cared. You have to love the completely random instructions of copying and pasting the status to get Facebook for free. Oh, AND IT WAS ON THE NEWS! It has to be real. This one is so good that it ends the post with another scare — your account will be deleted if you don’t pay! PANIC!

Security padlock of DOOM!

Re-post – WARNING,,,, WARNING,,,, WARNING,,,, } HACKERS ALERT….. ATTENTION!!!!! IF ANY OF YOU GET A PADLOCK ON TOP RIGHT HAND CORNER OF FACEBOOK HOME PAGE SAYING YOUR SECURITY IS LOW.. IGNORE.. DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT ANSWER THE QUESTIONS.. IT IS SO HACKERS CAN ACCESS YOUR ACCOUNT. COPY & PASTE PLEASE

Analysis: Excellent use of caps and very strange punctuation. This person clearly means business. After that, I have no idea what any of this means. And maybe that’s the point. Panic people. “Wait, is this the padlock they’re referring to? I’m screwed!” Scare them with the hackers, copy and paste, typical stuff.

IMPORTANT!!! AUTOMATION-LOG!!

VERY IMPORTANT!!!!! Apparently, there is a hacker on FB!! To see if he is on your friends list (because, apparently he’s hidden and won’t show up on your regular list, otherwise) PLEASE go to PRIVACY SETTINGS, then click BLOCK LIST and type in AUTOMATION-LOG. If a name pops up, PLEASE BLOCK HIM and PLEASE PASS ON!!! The name is Phua Soon Hock

Analysis: There are some hoaxes you just have to respect, and this is one of them. Scare people with hackers and a foreign-sounding name. If anything inspires irrational fear among middle Americans, it’s foreigners. Lots of caps and exclamation points. Then some specific details on how to not only spot this hacker but remove him. The whole process didn’t make any sense at all, but they were right — you follow these steps, this happens. So… IT MUST BE A HACKER! BLOCK HIM!

Hacker Door — whatever that is…

HACKER DOOR INTO YOUR FB ACCT- FB has a default where it lists ourselves in our friends list now – U need to remove yourself as a friend otherwise it is somehow an open door for hackers. Go to Account, go to edit friends, there search for your name on the list and click the X to get your name removed. ~~This is true, I was on my own list!

Analysis: This is a very good example of the “This is true, it happened to me!” approach. Again, you take the steps, it all happens as explained. But by no means, obviously, does that mean that there’s a “hacker door.” Yet, thousands (probably millions) were fooled.

Spybot!

Repost-ALERT Has your facebook been running slow lately? Go to “Settings” and select “application settings”, change the dropdown box to “added to profile”. If you see one in there called “unnamed app” delete it… Its an internal spybot. Pass it on. I actually found in my Apps” …………pass it along This was there… This was messing up some of my other apps. Deleting it fixed the problem.

Analysis: This hoax has it all. Some caps, specific instructions that work, fear, it happened to me, pass it on.

What’s Your Favorite Hoax?

We can laugh about them now. Facebook is a much better place without them. And hopefully this post will help tip people off next time a hoax is attempted. Seriously, if this post prevents one person from copying and pasting a hoax in the future, it was worth it.

That said, what was your favorite hoax and why?3

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About Jon Loomer

Jon Loomer is a digital marketing consultant with a unique perspective on social media. He was introduced to Facebook in 2007 while with the NBA (back before Pages) and has been using Facebook for business ever since. Stay in touch by liking his Facebook Page (Jon Loomer Digital).

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