Son shot himself in the chest with a nail gun? It's another Facebook chain letter

Filed Under: Facebook, Social networks, Spam

Facebook chain letterWhen a social network has more than 750 million active users, it's easy to understand how rumours, scares and falsehoods can spread quickly and out of control.

As well as the Olympic Torch virus hoax that is spreading rapidly today on Facebook, there's another notable chain letter that is being distributed far and wide.

The chain letter asks recipients to pray for an injured child, and pass the message on to other Facebook users:

Urgent prayer request for 22 month old son shot with a brad nailer

URGENT PRAYER REQUEST!!! PLEASE RE-POST!! KAYLA SCOTT'S 22 MONTH OLD SON SHOT HIMSELF IN THE CHEST WITH A BRAD NAILER~ IT WENT IN HIS HEART~ HE IS NOW IN CRITICAL CONDITION AND NOT DOING WELL ~ NEITHER IS HIS MOM ~ PLEASE START A PRAYER CHAIN FOR THIS BABY~ PLEASE COPY & REPOST ......AS YOU WOULD WANT SOMEONE TO...DO IT...FOR YOU, thanx guys xxxxx i wanna see this as ur status for at least half hr please xxxx!!!!!! GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS

The request for prayer first circulated at least a year ago (when Kayla Scott's son was already listed as 22 months old).

And although the message may have started as a genuine plea for help - no-one seems to know for sure.

I would urge against making a chain letter out of anything (legitimate or otherwise) because chain letters can end up out of control, months or even years after their time has passed.

If you get into the habit of liking or endorsing things online without knowing yourself if they're true, then you can easily slip up and play into the scammers' hands when they mix together a real story with a dodgy link.. and since your friends probably take your likes more seriously that those from random strangers, that puts them at risk, too.

If in doubt, leave it out.

If you feel a spiritual need to do something in this case, you could always pray yourself in more general terms - for example for all children who have been the victims of crazy accidents of this tragic sort, and for their parents - without propagating the chain letter on Facebook.

That way it doesn't matter whether Kayla Scott really exists, and you won't risk keeping a possibly made-up story alive online, but you won't feel bad about "doing nothing" :-)

By the way, Brad Nailer might sound like a porn star's name, but DIY aficionados recognise it as a handheld nail gun. Hopefully in future, more people will also recognise this plea for a prayer request as a chain letter that probably doesn't really need forwarding on.

It's always good to check your facts before forwarding chain letters and warnings to other Facebook users.

If you want to learn more, you should join the Sophos Facebook page, where we'll keep you up-to-date on the latest rogue applications, scams and malware attacks threatening social network users.

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10 Responses to Son shot himself in the chest with a nail gun? It's another Facebook chain letter

  1. I still dont get the point of chain letters in the first place. Its just stupid

    • Michael · 1097 days ago

      I totally agree, Richard. Perhaps the person who originates them gets a kick out of seeing them flourish.

  2. Guest · 1137 days ago

    While I don't understand the point of chain letters, I also am not fully aware of what the consequences are when sending the chain letter. I understand it is annoying, you are sending something that is fake and so forth, but are they designed in order to open your page up to hackers etc? What are the actual harmful consequences?

    • techie · 1136 days ago

      in canada chain letters via the mail are a federal crime, so once laws catch up with techknoledgy i think chain letters online will be the same

  3. Greg · 1137 days ago

    When I read this I had to consider a few thing which is why I deleted it from my facebook. First, even the breatplate of a baby is quite a strong plate to be punched through even with a brad nailer. Second, the way a brad nailer is designed and with the coordination a 22 month old baby has it would be difficult to immposible for a baby hold the gun properly to fire it. Third, all nailer style guns have a safety switch that must be depressed in order for them to fire properly. Fourth, why on earth would any sane parent have their children (especially a 22 month old) around any equipment such as this? This facebook post wreaks of hoax in my opinion.

    • Jack · 1134 days ago

      THANK YOU that was my first thought, having used a brad nailer, not a chance

  4. Adrienne Boswell · 1137 days ago

    Chain letters, whether via Facebook, email, or postal mail do one thing - they use up resources. For email, they bog down mail servers, for social networking sites, they bog down database and web servers, and for postal mail, well, they make so much work that they make postal workers go "postal". I'm sure that even if there is no monetary gain for the originator, there is still the thrill of seeing the mail flooding whatever system, and possibly taking it down.

    As to the subject of stoopid (spelling intentional) parents, there was a two year old at the mall who got his finger cut off in an escalator. When I read the story in the local paper, I couldn't help but wonder where the parents were, and why their child was that close to an escalator. When my son, now seven with all ten fingers, was that age, I had him on a tether and we never even took the escalator just for that reason. So, there are stoopid parents out there, but yes, I think this particular thing is a hoax, too.

  5. ddp · 1135 days ago

    This actually happened the other day where I live. I heard it on the police scanner. I do not know what the parents names are though.

  6. Sizzle69 · 1135 days ago

    Adoptive parents would be the only way to save this kid if it actually happened. I'm pretty sure Facebook doesn't cure life threatening wounds, unless there's an app that does (perhaps there's a medical centre in Yoville?). In any case, it would need your shoe size, daily urine excretion in mm and access to your ex-girlfriend's mobile numbers before you could use it.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.