And 11 quick tips to avoid falling for the same online tricks
And 12 quick tips to avoid falling for the same online tricks
Below are some of the biggest social media hoaxes of the century to hit the news.
Sure we’re only 14 years deep into the third millennium, but during this short period of time we’ve been fed some outlandish internet codswallop. And most of us fell for it – even seasoned reporters.
Were you fooled?
1. Livr app prank: Social drinking gets more social
We’ve heard of social media sobriety tests that prevent you from going online when you’ve had one too many.
But Livr is the social network that wants you mullered before joining. It even comes with a mobile plugin-breathalyzer that unlocks extra features with every BAC point you blow over .08.
Before you slam down your cider and say ‘sign me up’, this isn’t a real app. Brandon Bloch, a branded content producer, created the LIVR concept.
His goal was to manufacture app hype – the kind that runs rampant in tech circles – around an ‘irresponsible’ product that doesn’t and will never exist.
Bloch soon confessed to the elaborate joke, disappointing international media, employment hopefuls, volunteer beta testers and investors who fell for the ruse.
Quick tip: How to know if an app is safe
2. Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax: Dude Facebooks like a lady
Manti Te’o was a fast-rising University of Notre Dame-football star. Lennay Kekua was a beautiful Stanford University undergrad.
The two met over Twitter in 2011 and carried on a digital romance – without ever physically meeting – until she was taken by leukaemia in 2012.
Three days later, Te’o shared his profound loss in a press conference following his win against Michigan State. The press loved his resilience in the face of tragedy.
That was until online sports outlet Deadspin blew the cover off the bizarre story.
Kekua never existed. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a male family-friend of Te’o’s, stole a former classmate’s identity and secretly began an emotional relationship with the footballer.
Media debate heated around Te’o’s participation in the sham, but evidence points to his innocence.
Quick tip: How to see if someone is using your photos.
3. Paris Hilton’s Mandela tweet: Photoshop ‘til you drop
Paris Hilton confuses Martin Luther King with Nelson Mandela pic.twitter.com/C26NjS57uc— Deleted Tweets (@iDeletedTweets) December 7, 2013
When anti-apartheid icon and former South Africa President Nelson Mandela passed away, the world mourned the loss of the inimitable humanitarian.
Which made Paris’ tweet all the more offensive when she confused Mandela with deceased American civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr.
Even Hilton has admitted, “Im not, like, that smart. I, like, forget stuff all the time”.
So, like, how were we supposed to know and stuff that, like, somebody would totally, like, Photoshop a fake tweet?
That’s right, Hilton was framed. @DeletedTweets took responsibility for the bogus post that was retweeted 15,000 times before she found out.
Quick tips: How to protect your Twitter account from a hacker
- Strong, unique login credentials are a must. Try secure password generator software if you need help coming up with something new.
- Opt for a second verification to be sent to your phone upon each login. Click the settings gear and select Security and Privacy to set this up. Activating these Twitter security settings is a quick way to add an extra layer of valuable protection.
4. Nev Shulman & the catfish: The one that got away
It started when 8-year-old Abby Pierce sent Nev Shulman a painting of one of his published photographs. Communicating through Myspace and Facebook, he soon got to know Abby and her 19-year-old half-sister Megan.
Nev’s brother and his friend smelled a story and filmed the entire story arc, turning it into the internationally acclaimed documentary Catfish.
Not only did we get to follow the photographer’s 9-month relationship with Megan as it developed into a full-blown internet romance. But also we got to witness the moment Nev found out the shocking truth…
Megan, Abby and 19 other Pierce family members and friends he communicated with were fictional characters created by Angela Wesselman, a 45-year-old housewife.
Strangely there are no hard feelings. Angela and Nev are friends on Facebook to this day.
Quick tips: How to spot a fake online profile
These tips are also particularly helpful when looking into potential fake dating profiles you’re not sure about. So use them to avoid falling foul of online fraud merchants.
5. @Horse_eBooks comes clean: It’s made out of people
Everything happens so much— Horse ebooks (@Horse_ebooks) June 28, 2012
We loved you best when we thought you were an automated social media account promoting eBooks. You turned unintelligible twitter spam into stream of consciousness poetry.
Then hearts broke in 2013 when we found out the truth. In 2011, a flesh-and-bones man secretly replaced the account’s spambot. Adding insult to injury, the human claims his tweets are art... [crickets].
Although 210k of us are still retweeting, favouriting and sharing, it’s just not the same now that we know who – not what – is behind the curtain.
Quick tips: How to identify fake Twitter accounts
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