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.
→ Video won’t play or too small on this page? Watch directly from YouTube. Can’t hear the audio? Click on the Captions icon for closed captions.
Is it perhaps also indicative of a certain type of social media mindset? The idea that things can be changed by clicking rather than doing. What FB does with our data is like something from a dystopian science fiction novel yet people continue to use it. Alternatives are available.
Indeed Neil. My advice? Read Dave Eggers’ The Circle and then leave facebook. get Ello or one of the other alternatives.
Or, you know, just don’t use Facebook.
But the fact that a lot of people do not want Facebook to use their personal info says enough right? Why are we as users being categorized by the big data? I think we should learn from Germany where the law made sure Facebook had to change policy to make sure the privacy rights of the German people would not come in danger.
Thing is, this hoax has nothing – nothing at all – to do with privacy and the law. It merely pretends to have a privacy angle in order to trick people into pointless behaviour that gives a false sense of security.
All the law in Germany isn’t going to stop you giving away data you didn’t mean to if you are willing to rely on magic incantations like this one to “protect” your privacy.
Paul should go to work for the FBI and solve the hacking issue. The post was a concern about there privacy. Not a lecture on computer use and the safety in using them. Cut the lady some slack, at least she had some concerns about the issue of everyone’s right to secure computer use.
I think you might want to read the article…
In order to do its job, Facebook must disclose, copy and distribute the text and photos you post: that is the whole reason you upload them to Facebook in the first place. If you don’t want to share them, then don’t post them on Facebook.
Wow I was actually seriously checking the news to see if this was a thing when I saw this article. Good thing I checked first.
There’s no shame in checking it out. It’s what everyone should do: verify before sharing. Once in a blue moon I look up something going around that sounds fishy and am surprised to find it’s actually true. 🙂
Except that in this case, the bogosity is evident *from the text your are supposed to post*, because it’s self-contradictory.
I posted it but i thought about it first. I didnt find it demeaning to myself not to remove it as this article suggests that i should. Of all the hoaxes or mistruths going around the internet i think this has to be one of the most useful as it reminded me not to put everything online. While facebook might not share our info, our fb friends can.