Sick baby scams on Facebook

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Anaxagoras
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Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:45 am
Location: Yokohama/Tokyo, Japan

Sick baby scams on Facebook

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Facebook removes sick baby hoaxes, urges users to report more
Over the weekend, I wrote about how five anti-scam websites (Hoax-Slayer, That’s Nonsense, The Bulldog Estate, Facecrooks, and facebookprivacyandsecurity) have banded together to fight back against a very viral type of Facebook hoax that exploits pictures of sick babies. I’m pleased to report their efforts have resulted in 26 out of the 26 very popular hoaxes have now been removed, as well as countless others. That’s cause for celebration, albeit a temporary one.

This type of hoax typically involves photographs of ill and/or disabled children in hospitals being shared virally across Facebook, often asking users to donate for the child’s medical expenses and/or promising that sharing the photo will result in donations from Facebook itself. Both claims are of course false. The real victims are not, however, the users who are being tricked – it’s the families of these children who learn photos of their sick relatives are being used to perpetuate the scams and hoaxes.

Facebook currently relies on reports from users to stop the sharing of such images. The five aforementioned websites encourage users to report popular instances of offending photos, but when it comes to viral content, Facebook just doesn’t react quickly enough. The quintet says it is playing catch up: new instances of these images are being uploaded and shared faster than users can report them in order for Facebook to take them down. That’s why the group wrote a letter pleading for media attention: the hope was that more publicity would not only educate users about the problem but it could possibly also pressure Facebook into being more proactive when it comes to removing the hoaxes.
Of course, you could just do the same thing on the non-Facebook internet and Facebook wouldn't be able to shut it down. It'd be nice if the hoaxers were actually prosecuted, not just having their content removed from Facebook.
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare