Deadline Tomorrow

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks Flickr via Compfight cc

Deadline tomorrow!!! Everything you’ve ever posted becomes public from tomorrow. Even messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed…I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, messages or posts, both past and future. With this statement, I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents…

If you were one of people who became genuinely concerned about your online privacy and reposted this message (even if it was “just to be safe”), then pat yourself on the back and greet yourself a Happy April Fools Day in October. There were apparently a good number of you as this recent viral trend made it to the news again.

“Again?” You might ask.

Well, yes, because this little prank or hoax has been around since 2012 (according to Snopes.com).

So let’s be clear about a couple of things:

  1. Facebook is not making all your posts public, and certainly not those messages or photos that have been deleted.
  2. Nothing you post on your wall, even if it sounds legalese, overrides the Policies and Terms Of Use that you agreed to when you signed up for a Facebook account. In other words, there were certain things you agreed to when you decided to get an account. Yes, it’s that long, boring blob of text that you probably skipped or hurriedly scrolled down to just to tick the “I agree” checkbox at the bottom.

Let me tell you about a tool that you can use before falling for these hoaxes again. But it really needs no introduction as  I’m sure you know the tool I’m talking about. It has been around far longer than Facebook. It’s called Google.

Whenever you see any of these things again, go to Google.com and paste a significant portion of the text. For example, you could copy the phrase “I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission” and put that into the Google search bar, and you will immediately see a number of links leading to articles that you can read and discern for yourselves whether it is true or not. Instead of copying text, you can also use key words. For example, “Facebook privacy hoax or not” also works.

Now, like I said, this is a tool and like any tool it needs to be handled properly. Not all articles you find on Google are guaranteed to be true. The next thing you should do is check the source of the article. Is it a personal blog, a relatively unknown newsletter, or a known news source? And then read the article itself. Is it an opinion piece or a fact-piece? Does it cite credible sources? And so on.

“That sounds like a lot of hard work,” you might say.

Well, of course it is. But why do you think a lot of people fall for pyramid scams and get-rich-quick schemes even if they have been around for decades? Why do people fall for rumors and false stories? Why do people believe in self-medicating with herbal remedies instead of getting proper medical diagnoses?

Getting to the truth is hard and involves some work and some thinking, but what is the alternative? Would you rather be fooled? Would you rather spread false stories? Would you rather suffer from complications because you took that concoction your neighbor boiled rather than seeking sound scientific advice?

You decide.

Originally published in Sunstar Davao.

Email me at andy@freethinking.me. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.

 

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