The Hoax: The Dangers of Rumors on the Internet


The Internet is a medium of communication fantastic: with it, we can do shopping, meet people, study, etc. But, being so comprehensive, the “world online also can offer the dangers of various kinds. One of them is the hoax, a term used to designate rumors that spread on the Internet via e-mail or social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) and who achieve a high number of people.

In this text, you will better understand what is hoax,know the major risks of this type of message, and you will see characteristics that help to identify these so problematic hearsay.

What is the hoax?

We can understand the hoax as a kind of SPAM – in a few words, unsolicited messages sent to multiple people. The contents of a SPAM can have multiple purposes. In the case of the hoax, as you already know, is the spread of rumors through Internet so that the information distorted can reach the greatest possible number of individuals.

The rumor is the news content of more doubtful, as usually it is based on incomplete information and that have little or no truth. Once your proof it is difficult and not infrequently impossible,opinions or arguments inconsistent can be added to the news as this spreads in an attempt to validate it, generating more speculation.

Unlike the typical SPAM messages that aim to promote products, services or scams, the hoax does not occur of automated way: your initial seeding up can be made by this means, but the spread it is only effective when a person spreads the rumor to other and these, in turn, repeat the act.

The action of spreading rumours, dating back to a past very distant. In a way, this behavior is one of the characteristics of the human species. On the Internet, in however, the situation is even worse, since the communication tools are much more fast. A person may receive a hoax via e-mail and send it in a few seconds for your list of contacts, or disclose it in a social network, allowing multiple people at the same time to see this content.

As beings as gregarious that we are, we feel impelled to share the message, not only for people to around us are informed of something that, in principle, is important, but also because this is a way of we deal with the information, seeking support on our impressions and feelings about the subject question.


What are the issues addressed in the hoaxes?

As people do not share information that does not matter to them, the hoaxes need content strongly appealing, first to call attention, then to convince the individual.

A “formula” used for this purpose is the exploitation emotional by the middle of the commotion. An example persistent of this are messages that show images of children, adults and animals injured or who suffer from serious diseases. Who is it that has not already received this type of content by e-mail or social network?

The photos are impressive and, because of this, people tend to read the the message that follows to understand what happens. Such the explanation, however, is quite appealing and it asks, for example, for the person to share the news with the the largest number of contacts possible, since a supposed the company counts the messages sent and will donate a value in money corresponding to the number of readers.

In situations like this, the trick is obvious: how it is human nature to be lighthearted, a lot of people feel pity or the same guilt. To not load these feelings or to understand that’s the only way you can help is by forwarding the message, the the individual makes it and, without wanting to, ends up expanding the scope of the rumor. When the hoax asks share with the largest number of people as possible, the message can be also called current.

But hoaxes can also explore other “weaknesses” of human, as the desire to possess certain goods in an easy way, or the curiosity: it is not difficult to find the messages claim that the user will win prizes tempting if you spread the news to your contacts or click on given link you’ll see sexy photos of actress featured. To convince the reader, this type of rumor usually involve unduly behalf of major companies, brands,personalities famous and so on.

It is possible to find also rumors that they try to cause mobilization by the effect of the indignation. Are messages that reveal possible conspiracy theories, or the involvement of famous personalities with suspicious actions. Messages type claim, for example, that the cure for cancer was found there are times that a particular celebrity has pacts demonic, that the Amazon is shown as a area international textbooks north American, anyway.


Features: how to identify a hoax?

Most of the times, it is not difficult to identify a hoax. The main feature you already know: appealing content, often accompanied by images or arguments that have to validate the message. But there are other “tracks”, among them:

“A hoax that it almost always contains a request of the type “spread this message to your list of contacts” or “share for the as many people as possible”. Content as well, as I have already informed, corresponds to the currents;

“Some of the messages mentioning names of companies, brands,and non-governmental organizations, researchers renowned, famous writers, etc., all to give an air more true to the rumor;

“No company offers rewards or donations extremely generous, so that messages like this are highly suspicious. Just be aware of the fact that promotions usually have their regulations published in official pages;

“No company or entity account in the amount of people that received a particular message, and then makes donations corresponding to that amount;

“Important news is disseminated by the press, not by chains, after all, the media needs audience. When in doubt, search for the subject of the treaty in search engines or on specific services research in the news, as the Google News;

“The message might claim that you will have bad luck, you will be single for the rest of their life or their dreams not be held if determined action is not performed, for example. There is not the slightest doubt that this content is false: the hoax tries to to convince using arguments superstitious;

“If the message has phrases in uppercase, large font, red color, excessive exclamations and the like, is because there is a desperate attempt to draw your attention. Be wary immediately;

“Another argument often used is just to warn you in own message if that content is not false;

“The content may contain grammatical errors or spelling is in excess, the arguments repetitive and even contradictions.

What are the consequences of the hoaxes?

The principle, a hoax may not have the biggest consequences – “if it is a lie, soon everyone forgets and all back to normal”. But it is not so. Depending on the circumstances, a rumor on the Internet may cause several problems, reason why this type of content should be fought. Here are some of the types of disorders that can be caused by hoaxes:

“The rumor might offend, denigrate, embarrass or compromise the reputation of someone;

“In the same way, the rumor may cause problems to companies and other organizations that, in addition to reputation scratched, may have to work extra hard to disprove or mitigate the situation;

“Who promotes the hoax, even not being the author of the message, you can have its image damaged by spreading information inconsistent, which is especially bad in the environment corporate;

“The message can transmit guidelines harmful, as incorrect procedures in situations of emergency or health tips without proof scientific;

“A hoax may also induce the user to download a dangerous file (malware) or convince you to enter data that, in fact, may to be used for malicious actions, such as a false petition online that asks for information confidential;

“Type messages can clog up e-mail services or create discomfort in social networks because of the frequency with which they are disclosed;

“The condition of the hoax, the hoax may cause commotion is unnecessary, as well as to generate mobilization for unrealistic situations or have already overcome.


As a hoax arises?

It is possible to identify behaviors and actions that end up resulting in the emergence of a hoax, that does not mean, necessarily, that there is how to know the source of any rumor that appears on the Internet.

A hoax that may arise, for example, when a person tries to disclose the his or her belief. In the expectation of make believe, she can use arguments distorted or fanciful or even if it is based on statements that were not entirely proven.

There is also the hoax that emerges on the initiative of those who want to explore the “ease” that people must believe in everything that appears on the Internet. In situations of this type, the goal it can be simply to make a “joke” or to study the human behavior in the social networks, for example.

More serious is the hoax that arises as a result of an attempt to harm the image of a person or an organization by reason of revenge, retaliation, conflict of beliefs or political position.

Other reasons include scams, attempts to cause disorder or discussion and erroneous interpretation of the facts.


Ending: what do you do to combat the hoax?

At this point in the text, you already know that the hoax is quite damaging, but that only exists when people they believe in it. Thus, the best way to deal with the problem is good old prevention.

In this sense, to realize that an e-mail or a social network message it is a hoax, just ignore the news or to delete it. Can be a good idea to alert the person who sent you the message, but do way gentle, and discrete to avoid conflicts.

So you don’t end up propagating a hoax without want, prefer to share with your friends only links to news sites recognized, rather than simply publish or send the full content by email.

Finally, before you hit the button to send or share, if question: will that information do not will cause inconvenience to someone? Why take how to truth something that I only saw in e-mail or on Facebook and not in the news? I’m sharing this content want to help or because I was impressed?

Remember: the hoax is always appealing. The message will use arguments or images that try to cause commotion, outrage or any sense able to do acting for the impulse. So, forget the excuses of the type “when in doubt, it is better to share”.

In the case of companies, it is a good idea to put into practice prevention initiatives (such as guides or lectures) against rumors and other online security problems. In the corporate environment, a hoax can cause misunderstandings between employees or even reach inadvertently to a client.

The Hoax The Dangers of Rumors on the Internet 1

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