Did you see the “Facebook is shutting down” or “Facebook will end on March 15” messages this weekend If you did, then you were the victim of an internet rumor. The Facebook rumor started from an article posted on Weekly World News titled FACEBOOK WILL END ON MARCH 15th!
The article was posted on January 9 and quickly spread by Facebook and Twitter around the internet. Facebook immediately released the statement “We didn’t get the memo about shutting down, so we’ll keep working away like always. We aren’t going anywhere, we’re just getting started.”
The article quoted Mark Zuckerberg as saying, “Facebook has gotten out of control, and the stress of managing this company has ruined my life. I need to put an end to all the madness.” Every part of the article appears to be rubbish. Each quote throughout the article was in response to a story that does not exist.
As everyone calms down and takes a second to breathe, the question becomes: why are there so many internet rumors? In this case, Weekly World News merely wanted to bring traffic to their website; this particular story certainly achieved that goal. Other internet rumors are simply meant to hurt those who are part of the rumor. Whether internet rumors are for publicity, meant to harm those rumored about, or to gain some type of advantage, we can all help by trusting our news sources. If the next time you see an article about a questionable story, look around the rest of the website. Are there stories such as “Kim Kardashian’s Butt Explodes” or how about “10 Ways To Protect Your Home From Zombies.” These are just a few of the other articles on the Weekly World News website. The next time you tweet or retweet about a news story you just heard, check the original article. Hopefully this will help cut down on the internet rumors.
As the world resettles from the Facebook rumor let us discuss the 5 worst types of internet rumors.
1. Celebrity Deaths
This is the easiest rumor to spread. Many people love to tweet or Facebook update about a celebrity dying. Instead of just letting the world find out through a news source, people enjoy informing their friends and family about the death of a celebrity. What makes this rumor even worse is that many news outlets will hold off for a while to confirm the story. This stops many people from double checking before passing on the news through Twitter. Many celebrities including Owen Wilson, Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler and Aretha Franklin have been falsely rumored to have died.
2. Tragic Events
After tragic events such as the recent shooting in Tucson, Arizona many people start to spread rumors as soon as the event becomes breaking news. This is the most saddening type of rumor on the internet. After the shooting in Tucson, the rumor of Representative Gabrielle Giffords dying from her wounds quickly spread. Tragic events are also a breeding ground for rumors for the same reason as celebrity death rumors. News sources are either accused of hiding facts or simply waiting to confirm the story before reporting. Unfortunately the desire to have facts as quickly as possible also lead many national news agencies into the same trap by reporting that Giffords had died during the shooting.
Political rumors are meant to gain an advantage. During the summer there were many rumors spreading around the internet. One of the more infamous rumors was about the proposed health care plan. The rumor was that if the legislation passed people would have to meet with death panels. The death panels would decide if a person would be allowed to receive medical help for their situation, determining whether or not it would be worth the cost to save their life. Political rumors typically take one piece of truth and twist it just enough so that it sounds possible and that it hurts the opposite party.