Another year, another Facebook hoax.
Or, more precisely, another year, the same old Facebook chain letter hoax.
The details have changed slightly since we last wrote about this, but the idea is exactly the same.
Here’s one variant, reproduced in full:
At least some people on Facebook are blindly following orders by copying, pasting and posting it to their own Facebook walls, and thereby perpetrating the hoax.
Why you need to remove this posting
If you posted this, PLEASE REMOVE THE POSTING NOW.
Let me be quite blunt.
If you post this sort of thing where other people can see it without also explaining why it is arrant garbage, you are:
- Misleading your friends and family.
- Demeaning yourself.
- Teaching others that it is OK to click without thinking.
It is never acceptable to click without thinking.
That is exactly the way the crooks hope you’ll behave: sooner or later, you’ll end up where you shouldn’t be and put yourself at risk.
Ideally, at least if you are a fluent speaker of English, you’d dismiss the message above simply because it is at the very borderline of illiteracy and incomprehensibility.
But even if you do labour through its tortured prose, you can’t help noticing its self-contradictory absurdity, because it boils down to this:
Dear Facebook. I hereby forbid you to act on any of the information I have ever posted here, including this statement forbidding you to act on any of the information I have ever posted here.
So, if Facebook accepts your statement, it cannot accept it; and if Facebook does not accept it, then it cannot accept it.
Therefore the statement is redundant. (Joseph Heller would have been proud.)
Sadly, this is no laughing matter.
The idea that you can best control the privacy of your personal information by quoting bogus legal statutes is a dangerous one.
Spouting absurd and unforceable legal contradictions won’t help you control anything.
You best control the privacy of your personal information by following the simple principle, “If in doubt, don’t give it out.”
The silver lining
There is a silver lining here.
As a Naked Security reader said in an email:
Maybe users are wising up to Facebook hoaxes? Because I only noticed one person putting this notice up but I noticed quite a few people making fun of it.
Like this, for example:
We’re not sure whether we should openly encourage parody of this sort, because it is a little bit rude to those who might have posted the hoax with the best of intentions.
On the other hand, if you have posted such obviously nonsensical garbage, what sort of impression do you think you have given of yourself?
The bottom line
Posting made-up legal bogosities isn’t going to make you safer online, and it isn’t going to help you learn to be safer, either.
If you want to enjoy services like Facebook and other social media websites without putting yourself at risk, why not use some of our free resources?
- Learn three tips to avoid Facebook hoaxes.
- Join us on our Naked Security from Sophos Facebook page. (Yes! On Facebook!)
- Sign up for the daily Naked Security email newsletter.
- Read our Top Ten Tips to keep children safer online.
- Let the Sophos Threatsaurus and our handy online Threat Index help you teach your friends and family how to stay secure.
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