free debate

August 12, 2009

Skepticism and a Facebook Scam

Everyday we are assaulted with claims of scientific proof or hear hear a story of the baffled scientists. So how can we sort through all of this information and find out what is real and what is a scam? Whenever you read something or see a claim, there are a things you can look for that should trigger some skepticism.

I recently got an account on Facebook. Less than a month ago one of my friends sent me a message that caught my attention.

Facebook is recently becoming very overpopulated,there have been many members
complaining that Facebook is becoming very slow. Records show that the reason is
that there are too many non-active Facebook members and, on the other side, too
many new Facebook members.

We will be sending this message around to see if members are active or not. If
you are active please send to at least 15 other users using Copy+ Paste to show
that you are still active. *Those who do not send this message within 2 weeks
will be deleted without hesitation to create more space.*

Send this message to all your friends and to show me that you're still active and
you will not be deleted.

Founder of Facebook,
Mark Zuckerber

I am always skeptical of anything that asks you to forward it. Most of the time, if it is an e-mail for example, the person who sent it would have no way of knowing if you forwarded it or not. In this case, if really was Facebook they probably could check if had forwarded the message, but there are other problems.

If Facebook really wanted to delete all of the inactive users, think of what the best way for them to do this is. They could send a message directly on Facebook to every user that has them click a link to confirm that they are active. They could send a e-mail to every user asking them to click on a link to confirm that they are still active. Finally, they could just look at the activity records of their users and delete all accounts that haven't been accessed in say 18 months. Having the users send around a message just doesn't make any sense.

If that isn't enough and you want to make sure that it isn't hoax you can always look it up. The first place I went was, which is a great resource for urban legends and Internet myths. I did a simple search for Facebook deleting accounts and there it was.

So why is this important; all I saved was a little bit of time and annoyance for me and my friends, right? In this case that may be true, but it is the process that is important. This scam, like many, relies on people buying into it without hesitation. There are many scams out there which can be very harmful both financially and even physically. Skepticism is not about being cynical, it's about looking at the evidence behind something. A little bit of skepticism can go along way avoiding scams, and maybe even save your life.