This story was first published on May 1, 2015
If you tend to be the hoax and scam debunker among your social media friends, chances are you’ve come across the rather lame ‘just in case’ justification more than once.
You know the scenario. You warn friends that a circulating post that claims that they can win a luxury car just by liking and sharing is a scam. But, they like and share anyway and tell you, ‘I thought it was probably a scam, but I thought I’d try just in case.’
You politely point out to one of your online friends that Facebook will NOT donate money to help a sick child each time the child’s picture is shared. Your friend counters with the tired old argument, ‘Well, I shared it just in case’.
At first blush, the ‘just in case’ argument might even seem reasonable. After all, it could be argued, what harm can it do?
But, it is not at all reasonable and it certainly can cause harm.
Of course, due to gaps in their knowledge or a lack of Internet experience, many people may fall for one of these scams or hoaxes the first time they see them. That’s understandable. But often, even after a more knowledgeable friend has set them right about such scams, some users continue to share them just in case.
If a friend does use the ‘just in case’ justification, you could perhaps counter with the following points:
If they like and share a scam post ‘just in case’ it’s legitimate, they are not only putting themselves at risk. They are also exposing their online friends to the scam as well. The friends they share the post with most likely trust and respect them. So, if they share a scam message, at least a few of the friends may trust their judgement and happily click away. By doing so, these friends may divulge personal information via dodgy survey websites, install rogue apps or browser plugins, or download malware.
And, of course, before they do any of that, the friends will most likely share the same scam message with THEIR friends as well! Thus, the ‘just in case’ proponents are jeopardising the security and privacy of their friends and helping to promote the scams far and wide.
They are also aiding and abetting the criminals who create the scams in the first place. They help these criminals earn money, infect computers with malware, and steal personal information.
If they share a sick child hoax, just in case it might help, they are actually helping the disgraceful person who created the hoax accumulate page likes or website visitors.
And, by sharing a stolen picture of a sick child they are adding to the pain of the child’s family and violating their privacy.
So, as an excuse, ‘just in case’ simply does not work.
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!