Monday, January 18, 2010


Facebook is going to charge (fill in blank with price) for using its service starting (fill in blank with date)! If you join this group, my father/mother/brother/sister/dog will stop smoking/shooting heroin/voting the wrong way and/or some unidentified person or group will donate some unidentified amount to some unidentified party in aid of the hapless Haitians/their daughter/sister/neighbor with cancer/cancer/cancer. It's all TRUE, hurry up, the sky is falling!

Okay, none of it is true and the sky is only falling a little bit. Relax.

Why don't people do the teensiest tiniest little research before they jump onto the bandwagon that's tipping over into the quicksand? It's so easy! There are reputable sites that bust urban myths and demystify hoaxes. I like Snopes ( despite some minorly annoying popups. Check out as an example of the tug-on-heartstrings scam (the first part of the page shows the various versions of an email that went out over a period of years, after which you may read what the real situation was and what became of the scammer). Here is a general hoax roundup: . To find more hoaxes, just search for "hoax." This result most closely matches the Facebook charge hoax, though it isn't among those mentioned: There are sites other than Snopes, too; in addition, one can always Google the specifics of whatever one has heard.

Apart from all that, common sense seems to be a rare commodity. HOW will joining a specific group send money to Haiti? What PROOF has a group got that Facebook intends to charge? Can it quote a legitimate FAQ, email or article? When you look outside and upward, do you see the sky falling, and if not, do you see any secondary indications that it might be? No? Then RELAX. DON'T PANIC.

(And for God's sake, don't pass it on to everyone on your email list!)

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