To Share or Not To Share
By Stella Roper (they/she)
In a world where online media has a tight grasp on the general public, the unfortunate popularity of ‘fake news’ follows close behind. By now we’re all familiar with this term, popularised by former TV show host (and American President) Donald Trump. Whether you realise it or not, you’ve likely faced information with ‘alternate truths’ yourself! It can be difficult to steer through the seas of scams and phishing (not the tasty kind), but do you think you’re up for the challenge?
Damn, you just got Jerry SCAMMED! But not only Jerry, also his baby fur seal loving Grandma, who decided to pitch in some moneythat would otherwise go to her insulin payments. (She lives in America. It is expensive.) She donated to the fund after being inspiredby Jerry’s post and his donation towards it. Who knows who else was also impacted by your choices on Jerry's behalf? So yeah, niceone. Reeeal smart guy over here. That’s what you get for donating money to an organisation you didn’t bother to research (as well asthe silent treatment from one side of your family for a few months).
After Jerry reposted the baby fur seal fund on Blobstagram, a number of people followed suit and the ‘SAVE the Baby Fur Sealswith Chapped Lips!’ fund was everywhere on social media! Jerry felt like such an influencer and decided to go further with hiseco-warrior-pro-moistened-lip-baby-fur-seal escapade. Merchandise! Fundraisers! Minimalist, colour coordinated infographics!Jerry was building an empire. However, after a week of building the movement from the ground up, it was crushed by the attack of‘judgemental-SJW-mind-readers’ (or maybe they were just ordinary Blobstagram users who actually researched the very sketchyhistory of the organisation running the baby fur seal fundraiser… Jerry couldn’t be sure, he didn’t bother to look into it). Jerry facedheavy backlash and was #cancelled. “Maybe Fleepbook is the new Blobstagram?” Jerry pondered.
Jerry wakes from a long sleep filled with robot influencers and fur seal overlords, which actually turned out to be a seven-daylongcoma! After the moment of bewilderment as he realises he’s basically slept through a week, he checks his Blobstagram feedand notices that the ‘SAVE the Baby Fur Seals with Chapped Lips!’ fund was proven fake and scammed thousands. “Wowza!” Jerrymutters to himself, “It was a good thing that I never got involved with that stuff.” It also turns out that his post exposing the lack oftransparency within the organisation went viral and probably prevented some people from being scammed too! It seems like Jerrysurvived social media for today.
Although this piece has been light hearted so far, online scams pose a genuine threat to many people's livelihoods. A survey held in 2020 showed that 60 percent of 16 to 24-year-olds in the UK had recently used social media for information about the coronavirus, and 59 percent had come across fake news on the subject.¹
Over 95,000 people reported losing money to social media fraud in 2021, and imagine how many more grandparents are left unaware of the underlying malice driving their purchases!² These scams total close to a billion dollars ($770 million) in reported loss per year, which in turn makes up over a quarter of all reported fraudulent loss.³
Even though investment-and-romance scams con individuals out of more money, the ease of setting up charity-based scams means more youth and elderly are being robbed. Charity scamming is run by people making credible-looking charity sites and creating fake donation schemes (as demonstrated by poor Jerry), in which the account is the intermediary between social media users and legit charities. The funds acquired go to places that aren’t just the charity, if at all