As if we needed any reminder, as we countdown to the End of Daysâand stock our âdoomsdayâ bunkers with non-perishable food items, bottled water and a lifelong supply of batteriesâthereâs no such thing as baby-snatching golden eagles.
The internetâs most recent tomfoolery gone viral soared into many of our Facebook newsfeeds and Twitter timelines Wednesday morning, feeding our friends and followers to the latest social media prank. The video had nearly 17 million views on YouTube by Thursday morning.
Admittedly, I was among the many to share the videoâdespite some glaring signs of illegitimacy, such as the nonchalant, âOh shitâ as the baby gets scooped up, or the sheer fact that the chances of this ever happening, let alone in a city like Montreal, are slim to none, right?
According to bird expert Kenn Kaufman, the âgolden eagle is a scarce visitor in the Montreal area, but the bird in the video is not a golden eagle, nor anything else that occurs in the wild in North America. This was clearly a setup.â
The CBC later reported that the feathered kidnapper was in fact created by students at Montrealâs 3D technology school, Centre NAD.
And thatâs that. Yet I (I mean, we) should have known better. Then again, these social media firestorms happen far too often. Sadly, this type of misinformation is churned up during natural disasters or even during the horrific events that took place last week in Newtown, Conn.
As the story unfolded, news outlets referenced the Facebook page of Ryan Lanza, the name initially linked to the brutal murders. Those with the same name were also thrust into the unwelcoming spotlight on Facebook and Twitter. Authorities warned that those spreading false details about the shooting were subject to arrest, according to CNN.
On a lighter note, however, there has been a fair share of Twitter and Facebook rumors that have spread like wildfire long before they were appropriately debunked. Therefore, itâs only fitting that before weâre treated to false pictures of mammoth tsunamis, catastrophic meteor showers and countless natural disasters, weâre reminded of some of the most infamous social media hoaxes in recent memory.
1. Morgan Freemanâs âreal reasonsâ
In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, a throng of celebrities voiced their support via Facebook and Twitter for those adversely affected. Among other things, plenty expressed their concern about the number of unspeakable massacres that have taken place in the United States since the shooting at Columbine.
Faux Morgan Freeman got in on the act by chiding the media for its mishandling of several erroneous reports, while also citing Americaâs gun policies and mental health care as part of the problem.
Courtesy of inquisitr.com
The quote was subsequently reposted on Facebook and mentioned all over Twitter, even after a Freeman spokesperson released a statement refuting the comments. According to Inquisitr, the quote was originally posted by a Vancouver man on Facebook and then attributed to Freeman as a joke.
Like Abraham Lincoln once said: âdonât believe everything you read on the internet.â
2. The $1 million Facebook share
When the record Powerball Jackpot reached more than $587 million, a frenzy of millionaire hopefuls headed to their local convenient stores to play the lottery. After it was announced that two peopleâone in Arizona and the other in Missouriâhad won and were going to split the massive prize, a couple of pranksters decided they would trick Facebookers into a shot at claiming a $1 million share of their own.
Courtesy of Danielsâ Facebook page
Danielsâ post garnered nearly two million shares and 60,000 likes, while Hiltonâs picked up merely 310,000. Nonetheless, thatâs a lot of stupid people. Both photos were poorly photoshopped, with the winning numbers modified on the tickets. According to CNN, Danielsâ post may be the most shared item ever on Facebook.
Some people are just desperate, I guess.
3. Countless Hurricane Sandy photos
After Hurricane Sandy unleashed her wrath along the Atlantic coast, including the most populated region in the United States, our Facebook and Twitter feeds were inundated with countless, eye-popping photosâfrom underwater airport runways, to stray seals and wandering sharks pictured in flooded New Jersey suburbs.
One of the more common photos that wowed people across the globe is the photo pictured above, depicting an impressive storm closing in on the Statue of Liberty (not as bad as this photo, though). According to TheWeek.com, the storm clouds were actually taken by a storm chaser in Nebraska in 2004.
Fortunately, this photo was revamped by several clever pranksters, like in the image below:
Courtesy of @dmataconis
4. Facebook privacy statement
In November, a few of my friends on Facebook attached a pointless copyright notice in a misguided effort to protect their privacy rights on the now publicly traded social network. By posting the rather long statement, the contents of your profile were deemed âprivate and legally privileged and confidential information,â thus making the violation of such personal and private information to be âpunishable by law.â
As stated by popular rumor-debunking site Snopes, âFacebook users cannot retroactively negate any of the privacy or copyright terms they agreed to when they signed up for their accounts nor can they unilaterally alter or contradict any new privacy or copyright terms by posting a contrary legal notice on their Facebook walls.â
Facebook then issued a statement that basically said Facebook users own and control the content that they post via their privacy settings, which has always been the case for the social media site.
5. Kara Alongi âkidnappedâ on Twitter
Instead of discussing the multitude of celebrity death hoaxes that spread on Twitter and Facebookâsuch as that of Bill Cosby, Adele and, of course, Morgan Freemanâthere was more bizarre and believable ruse that sent local police in New Jersey on a wild goose chase for an apparent missing teenager.
Kara Alongi, a 16-year-old from Clark New Jersey, posted the Tweet pictured above, igniting a frantic search for the supposed abducted teen. Soon after the hashtag #HelpFindKara was circulating on Twitter to assist in the search.
Police, however, revealed that the teen was presumed on the run and not the victim of the abduction after authorities found that she had called a cab around the time the cryptic Tweet was sent and nearby surveillance cameras spotted her waiting at a New Jersey train station. Two days later, the teen called police roughly 100 miles from home and she was then reunited with her family, according to the L.A. Times.
Alongi, though, faced âpossible chargesâ for stirring up such commotion. This type of nonsense is what makes Twitter dangerously powerful. Without any type of context, how are we supposed to determine whatâs legitimate and what isnât?
What are your favorite social media hoaxes of the year? Feel free to tell us in a comment below.