It’s like clockwork. The same click-bait statuses show up on our feeds time and time again, even though they’ve been repeatedly debunked. Annoying, isn’t it? But there’s not much we can do other than politely remind our friends — some repeatedly — that they shouldn’t trust everything they read.
We’ve assembled five current Facebook hoaxes that are driving us nuts, and the truth behind them. The next time you see one of these status, link them to this story: The Cheat Sheet will set them straight.
You still own your stuff
An obviously outrageous hoax has been making the rounds on Facebook, and for some reason saw renewed sharing at the end of September, according to CNN. The general gist is this: It claims Facebook has changed its copyright policy, and those who don’t post a status claiming ownership of their pictures and posts risk losing the rights to their content. This particular hoax has shown up at least three times previously: once earlier this year, and a similar status made the rounds in late 2012.
These claims are false, and it’s extremely easy to find the truth. Facebook’s terms and conditions clearly state that “you own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared.” The company has also repeated these terms in interviews this week with news outlets again as the hoax resurfaced. Either way, stop sharing this one: It’s false and unsupported by the facts.
Paying for privacy
Worried that Facebook will start charging you $5.99 to keep your profile private? A lot of people are, and have been for quite a while. British news site The Guardian notes that the hoax has begun to surface on Facebook again, but this is a long running hoax that myth busting site Snopes first debunked back in 2009. According to the hoax, “if you paste this message on your page, it will be offered free.”
This should be your first suggestion that this post is fake. Don’t you think Facebook — or any other company for that matter — would want something a little more legally binding than posting a status so it can charge you?
The dislike button
Another perennial favorite of Facebook pranksters is the “dislike” button. Snopes accurately states that some method for disliking content is on the way, but the existence of an actual button itself is untrue. This one has been around since at least 2010, when CEO Mark Zuckerberg first said he’d at least consider adding the highly requested feature. Either way, it’s yet a reality, and when it does come, it probably won’t behave like the “like” button.
The Cheat Sheet’s Jess Bollyut covers the possibilities quite well, and we suggest you check them out. It seems that a disliking feature will come more in the form of giving users the option for appropriate reactions to certain types of statuses (like sympathy for death statuses, and so forth), or more ability to give feedback on what types of posts you’d rather not see. But there will likely never be a “dislike” button per se.
Deaths of famous people
Facebook (and any social media outlet) always light up upon the death of a high profile celebrity. But it’s also become a hotbed for fake reports. Over the past year, child star Macaulay Culkin and actress Betty White have been the targets of such hoaxes, Huffington Post reports. In fact, we’ve got a list of 16 celebrities social media “killed” over the years
Here’s a general rule of thumb: If it’s nowhere to be found on any major news site — or as a last ditch effort TMZ (they’ve been wrong too) — it’s probably not true. Do us all a favor and don’t keep the hoax going.
Facebook doesn’t send you e-mail (usually)
Our last hoax is more of a phishing scam. Facebook used to send you messages alerting you when you were tagged in a photo. The rise of the mobile app has made this functionality somewhat useless, so by default these messages are no longer sent (you can turn them on though in settings). Local TV station WSPA reports that its viewers had been receiving suspicious emails that look very similar to legitimate emails the site would send when you’re tagged in something.
The emails are not real though. Instead of taking you to the actual Facebook site, it will prompt you to download malware. If you don’t have this setting enabled, it will be easy to spot these emails, but for those still wanting to receive email notifications of tags, figuring out whether it’s real or fake could be more difficult. Our suggestion? Always go to Facebook through your browser, not through a link in your email.
Follow Ed on Twitter @edoswald