Philemon O’Arpelleh writes:
“If the whole world is made simple by technology but technology itself is made complex by the folks, then what’s the point?”
That’s a powerful message isn’t it? Technology is advancing, more powerful inventions, simplified tasks, easy sharing, powerful connections, quick reading and the fun goes creative! But wait! Did I mention sharing? Yes I did, with the advent of the internet from past ages until now, digital sharing has never been difficult. Read it online, oh see, the share buttons are here; Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, WhatsApp, Tumblr, LinkedIn, just to mention but few. Tap it and there you go, post shared!
Yes, it’s easier to share but that’s not all, it’s also easier to be caught in the act of feeding others with pranks, hoaxes, scams and spams! Sharing needless information has never been difficult as well. Users find it convenient to share, that’s why they share. Users find it compelling to share, that’s why they share. Users find it a fun to share, that’s why they share! Without giving much consideration to what they see, without investing much thought into what they read, and without analyzing what they receive, they just share.
The Hoax, Prank, Scam and Spam complex
Oh really? Just sharing? I see. Let me tell you what you need to know, in case you are missing it. You send me a fabricated story, one which is just a “made-believe”, whether you are aware or not: that’s a hoax. Maybe you send me one which promotes an act of cruel deception, I call it a prank.You send me a tricky note, link or any media with a deceiving content, or practically a “fraudulent deal”, that’s a scam. Did you send me an unsolicited message? That’s what I consider a spam!
The fact that I didn’t mention phishing doesn’t mean I didn’t recognize it, or I’m not concerned about it or just ignoring it. No, I know you have mentioned that already. These are what we see in the social media trend. I’ll not leave out sharing of fake news. Web hosting and publishing has been reduced to the tiniest atom in the internet space. With just a credit card, one can obtain a self hosted domain name. And even with shared hosting that comes with extensive sub-domains; as in WordPress, Google’s Blogspot, Tumblr among others, even the guys without a credit card or even those who do not want to buy a hosting plan can setup a simple blog.
With what aim? All in the name of money, but how? Have you heard of website monetization? Affiliate marketing? Clickbait?
Website monetization involves all possible means of obtaining money in anyway possible; content selling, advertising, affiliate marketing among others. Mostly through partnerships, a website owner displays contents of other publishers in the form of products and services as well as links to third party advertisers. A percentage commission of the total earning is received by the publisher when users view or click such ads.
Because of greediness, some publishers tend to gain much at the expense of inexperienced internet users. Therefore they try as much as possible to drive heavy traffic to their website to increase their ad views and click-through rate. To achieve this, they employ fake news about celebrities and those in higher office with catchy captions. They know some internet users are so “foolish” to believe anything on the internet and still others will just share the link without checking the content in detail.
For example, check the update below:
“Breaking News: Buhari Hands Over Power to Osinbajo.
It has been confirmed by CNN this morning that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari has handed over power to his Vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo at the early hours of this morning at London where the President is currently resting.
This decision came after a close door meeting held by the cabals and chieftains of the APC.
According to the media adviser to Buhari, Mr. Femi Adesina, President Buhari handed over his 50,000mAh power bank to Osinbajo to enable him charge his phone whose battery is down as a result of lack of electricity in Nigeria!
At first glance what did you think? Did you notice how the caption (title) of the “news” was so catchy? And the first paragraph? If this was to be published on a website with the first paragraph being a summary of the news, an inexperienced user will just take it from there and share thinking it’s true. But a wise reader will read the full content and notice it’s just a joke! That’s the point, this is how fake news are published and spread.
In some instances, the whole news may be crafted with a “sugar content” including catchy images among other enticing techniques from word one to the last drop of word. And people will not use their power of reasoning to consider the details. They will just believe it all because it is on the internet. In this case, sharing goes on and on, within seconds and the whole internet becomes a ‘cloud of lies’. This happens because of easy sharing on social media. From a friend to friends, to their friends of friends and it keep on spreading.
Pranks, Scams and Phishing
Also, there is the technique of “drag them to me and I’ll pay you”. This results in tricking people to sign up for products and services they don’t need, clicking on malicious links as well as forcing them to give out sensitive information without them noticing it. What goes into this is simple, publishers may post attracting updates about winning gifts, bonuses usually in big names such as; huge cash, cars, product offers, gift cards and many more just by filling an online form, liking a page and its related posts on social media, sharing a post and even taking surveys.
What happens is, the inexperienced internet users will just follow along with the hope of winning and before they realize, they’ve sold out sensitive information for a zero gift. This happens in many surveys where the users are lured to give out their email addresses, telephone numbers and other personal data to help verify their identity and to aid in delivering their gift or bonus at the end of the survey (or draw). The fact is, after giving out these information, a user gets nothing.
Rather, the personal information given out may be sold to third party advertisers who will, in turn, use the contact details to spam the users. This may come in the form of sending them unsolicited emails and text messages about new products and services (junk advertising). In some cases, the same users may be drawn into other scams. This trick and harvest game has been on the internet for a long time. There have been numerous education about such scams but some internet users are still ignorant just because they fail to learn security tips about the internet and social media.
How to fight Hoaxes, Pranks, Scams and Spams?