This story was first published on November 21, 2013
A viral Facebook message, which features an image depicting a baby mouthing a handgun while laying on his or her mother’s lap, asks people to share the picture in the hope that the mother can be exposed and dealt with by the police.
The same image has been displayed on various “bad parenting” websites since at least 2009. While the image is certainly disturbing, there is no evidence to suggest that the baby was in any actual danger. Many commentators have pointed out that the gun may be a toy since a real handgun would likely be too heavy for a child of that age to hold up. The image may depict nothing more than an ill-conceived joke or a single moment of parental foolishness.
A photograph, which depicts a baby holding a large handgun in his or her mouth, is currently going viral via social media. The image shows the gun-toting baby cradled on the lap of a smiling and apparently unconcerned mother.
The description that comes with the photograph asks people to share it in the hope that the errant mother can be exposed and appropriately dealt with by police. The image has caused furious debate, with many angst-ridden commentators baying for the young mother’s blood.
Certainly, the picture is rather disturbing. But, in reality, no meaningful conclusions about the welfare of the pictured child or of the mother’s ability as a parent can be formed by viewing this picture in isolation.
The very same image has been published on various “bad parenting” forums since at least 2009, so the incident depicted in the photograph is not recent. It is unclear why the person who created the current Facebook message decided to resurrect it several years on.
And, there is no evidence to suggest that the baby is in any danger. Many credible commentators have pointed out that a real handgun of that size would likely be too heavy for such a young child to hold in the way depicted. Thus, it is possible that the gun is just a toy.
It seems likely that the image depicts a single instance of parental foolishness now captured forever and set to circulate for years on end. Perhaps, the picture records nothing more than an amazingly foolish and ill-conceived prank.
After all, the baby in the picture looks healthy and contented.
And, the calls for violent and bloody retribution against the mother, all based on conclusions drawn from a single photograph, are, to this writer at least, considerably more disturbing than the photograph itself. Internet vigilantism of this nature is potentially dangerous and serves no good purpose.
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!