Internet Junk: Spam, Hoax, and Glurge

iStock_000015937985XSmallBefore there was the internet, chain mail has existed. Since the growth of the internet, chain letters and hoaxes have exploded as it became easier and easier to “pass it on” as it has reduced the cost of paper, postage, time, and effort required. As someone who LOVES the internet, I do hate all forms of spam. As someone who value fact over fiction, I hate hoaxes and glurges. The term glurge was invented by Snopes.com, a website dedicated to cataloging and often debunking urban legends. Unfortunately, while the word glurge may be fictional, the phenomenon it describes is not. Glurge is best described as the cloyingly sentimental stories, testimonials and object lessons frequently sent as email or chain letters.

It used to be limited to your email inbox, but not anymore. It is now invading your social media space and it is all over your Facebook newsfeed. Facebook has made it a lot more easy for someone to share this crap to a greater multitude on social media — at least with email one had to actually add contacts to the recipient field, but now all anyone has to do upon seeing a piece of hoax or spam is to press that little share button. Not a day goes by where I do not see some type of hoax or glurge in my newsfeed.

As a upstanding netizen, it can be incredibly time consuming to properly deal with all this hoax and glurge. The objective is always to prevent the spread of misinformation. Usually this is accomplished by going to a site like Snopes.com or Hoax-Slayer.com, doing a quick search and finding the page with information on the offending item. I then copy and paste the URL and either reply to all in an email or post in a Facebook comment. Given that see about at least 5-10 a day, this easily takes me about 15-30 minutes a day!  Even then people might still call you names for being a bitchy, mean party-pooper (yes this actually does happen to me ever so often). I guess I can understand — what is the harm, especially when it comes to a glurge, when it is just sentimental?

Here are all the ways that spam, hoaxes, and glurges cause harm:

  • They slow down internet traffic.
  • They are a waste of time.
  • They contain illegal content.
  • They often steal copyright content and post them without permission
  • They are often created with questionable motives, for profit and malice.
  • They are often designed to steal money or identity (e.g. phish scams).
  • They are often lies, created to misinform and scare the public.
  • Even if they are created for sentimentality, you are helping the original poster’s questionable motives (usually profit).

Why you should be careful:

  • A 2006 study by Consumer Reports estimated that in two years, Americans spent more than $7 billion on repairs and parts replacement resulting from viruses, malware and spyware. This does NOT even take into account the cost to the Internet Providers who have to pay for all the bandwidth taken up by the spammers junk, or the cost in time, money and productivity to businesses that have to sort through all the spam.
    – See more at: http://protectspam.com/spam/what-is-the-harm-with-spam/#sthash.JasPUCjH.dpuf
  • A “like” or “share” on Facebook means you are contributing to Facebook Edgerank. This increases the likelihood that poster gets more views, and once they get a lot of likes and shares, they can turn around and sell that Fan page.
    – See more at http://daylandoes.com/facebook-like-scams
  • If you are not yet convinced yet read this post on Buzzfeed.

Because I love the internet and because I care about my friends and those in my social network, I have been trying to give people facts either by replying with a link or posting a comment with a link. This may have some effect on email, but it is actually a terrible thing to do with Facebook because it actually tells Facebook Edgerank by commenting that this is something that is engaging when what you should be doing is to disengage quietly and only give information to the system.

Facebook Feedback

Select the arrow on the right of the Facebook post to provide negative feedback

Here’s what you should do:

  • When you are on Facebook, give negative feedback by hiding the post, hiding all from a page, report spam, or unlike the page. Do not reward unethical business or poor etiquette!
  • Only like, share, or comment on original comment or information from credible and worthy sources (ideally you have read and checked yourself).
  • When you see spam, mark it as spam. This way, the spam filters can learn from your report.
  • If a friend is forwarding hoaxes and spam, it is very possible their account was hacked and they don’t even know it, so you might let them know if you have the time and if you know them well enough. Most of the time, the best thing to do is to ignore.

What ever you do, DO NOT REPOST spam, hoaxes, or glurges. When in doubt, do a little fact checking or just delete it!

 

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