23rd Jan 2012 - Article No: 127

Help Us Stop the Sick Baby Facebook Hoax

Our effort to stop this sick hoax.

Facebook is exploited by all sorts of spammers but it is perhaps the photos that circulate of sick children claiming to offer donations for liking or sharing the photo that are amongst the worst.

If you’re a regular user of the world’s number one social networking website then you’ve probably seen these photos that depict injured, disadvantaged or disabled children along with a message that asserts sharing or liking the photo results in either prayers or donations for the child.

Many Facebook users believe the claims are true. Others comply “just in case” they’re true.

These photos are never genuine. No entity including Facebook condition donations of any kind on the number of Likes or Shares a photo gets, at least not in this manner.

But it is important to scratch past the surface of this hoax and then ask if they’re not real then why do they exist? And the widely unknown answer to that question shows exactly how these unscrupulous scams work and highlights the extent as to how depraved scammers will go to make money.

It also shows why you should never share or like these photos, even if it’s “just in case they’re true”.

It is first important to realise that the vast majority of these scams exploit photos that have been taken elsewhere from the Internet and used without the permission of anyone related to the photo including the families of the children depicted. Such photos are taken from news websites, stolen from public Facebook photo albums and some have been known to be taken from medical journal websites.

This in itself is deplorable since it causes much anguish for the families involved to see photos of their loved ones circulating Facebook under false pretences. In most cases the photos are old and outdated, and in at least one example the photo shows a child that had since passed away.

An example of a photo that is used in this sick hoax

However it gets worse when you realise that these photos are often used to make scammers money. We explain the method of how scammers user “Likewhore pages” to make money in detail in this blog post, but essentially it involves scammers creating Facebook pages and posting consistent streams of content imploring users to like and share in order to accumulate followers. When the number of followers reaches a certain number then the Facebook Page can either be sold for financial gain or any number of other scams can be employed on the followers, such as survey scams or malware attacks.

It is also worth noting that these scams promote “slacktivism” – the illusion you are helping a cause merely by pressing Like or Share when in reality this has no real world significance or benefits towards helping with an issue.

ThatsNonsense.com has teamed up with several other hoax-busting websites in an attempt to educate Facebook users into how these scams works and how they exploit the children in the photos for profit. In this case education is key and the more people who are aware of how these scammers operate the less people will be willing to spread the scams, for whatever reason.

If you see such photos then we recommend doing the following -

1. Never Share or Like these photos. If you do you are playing right into the hoaxers hands and potentially causing great distress to the families involved, and of course you’re passing false information to all of your Facebook friends.

2. Avoid commenting on the photos. Even if you know the photo is a hoax a comment can make the post appear on the tickers of your Facebook friends and can help spread the photo.

3. Instead of a comment you can send a private message to the person who uploaded the photo and explain it is a sick hoax and ask them to remove it.

4. Report the photo. Many people who upload these photos will never take then down voluntarily, so Facebook will do it for you. Make Facebook aware of the photo by clicking the Report option

In the pop-up photo viewer you can report the photo under the options men, else the report photo is underneath “download”.

5. Report the photo to the Stop Sick Children Hoaxes Facebook group run by one of the admins of the Bulldog Estate here.

Since these hoaxes begun we have managed to educated many , many thousands of Facebook users and that number is still rising. Every time one of these hoaxes is uploaded it is removed faster than ever and more and more Facebook users are aware of the true nature of these hoaxes. We’re winning the battle, one user at a time. Help us and spread the word!

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