News breaks on social media faster than you can say verify. We in turn share this news, whatever it is, like we’re our own news organization (courtesy of Facebook and Twitter). As a news director once told me; bad information can travel around the world three times before accuracy can get out of bed and get dressed. These days scams and viruses are pretty easy to fall for on social media. A new site is making it a lot harder to spot the difference between what’s real and what’s a virus, and it’s all in jest.
The service called “Fakeshare” is quickly becoming social media’s biggest prankster. Over the last few days you may have started to see over the top headlines that look believable, but are still shocking. Chances are some of these posts are social media pranks courtesy of your so-called friends from the website Fakeshare.com
As the site says, “create a prank and share it in three easy steps.” According to the website, here’s how it works:
“1. Choose a picture from the examples, or paste your own image’s URL.
2. Choose the subject for your prank
3. Choose the description
Preview how the prank will appear on Facebook and
share it! Count how many people fell for your prank and enjoy!”
The posts then goes up on your social media channel of choice looking exactly like a link from a news organization, except they’re just pranks. They really do look legit, but end up taking you right to Fakeshare’s website with a big graphic that says you’ve been pranked.
In this social media age when it’s so easy to click on believable link that turns out to be a virus, the prank is pretty scary.
So how can you tell the difference between the virus and the prank? Look for the URL in the bottom portion of the post. If it says something along the line of: GOOGONLINE.COM chances are it’s the prankster.
Always look for the URL, that’s the tell. If it doesn’t look like the URL is from a legitimate news site, then don’t click on — prank or virus.
Am I taking everyone’s fun away? Maybe, but I also think there’s a line. Some of these are making up real headlines that might go too far. Earlier today I saw one about the Boston Bombing suspect being killed in jail (and I fell for it). The fake stories about TV shows are harmless, but the faux news stories frustrate me as a journalists. More importantly, I worry these “Fakeshares” will lead to a new crop of virus copycats or worse, people deciding to click on everything they see and getting a real viruses. So for now these are not a virus, but as the show used to say, be careful out there…