Trapdoor In The Sun

Alan Shanahan, Technician & Consultant

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Social Perils: Are Naivety Levels At A Record High?

To tell the truth, I’m worried. Worried because I see grown men and women falling for obvious social engineering scams. Grown men and women that, I feel, should know better. But more than this, I am seeing a pattern emerge; there seems to be an inherent willingness in us all to believe what we read, simply because it is written. Some have been trained out of this urge or have simply grown or matured out of it. But too many haven’t. I’m sure I risk scorn from some who might say I’m a smartarse. I’ll risk it.

Facebook – the tool of choice for those who like to interact with their world or just lurk watching others live – is where I see much of this behaviour manifest itself. Facebook gives us two innocuous little clicky things: Like and Share. But, like the proverbial iceberg, there’s a lot more under the surface. They carry responsibilities that many are unaware of.

And here is why: when you click Like or Share you cause something to happen: that something is called publishing. That action has legalities all over it. The fact that it is, technically, “re-publishing” carries no weight from a legal standpoint.

Examples of the types of posts I’ve seen shared recently are:

  • picture of a male in late teens holding a beer bottle; there’s a warning to watch out for him in animal rescue shelters – he’s looking for dogs to use in dogfights.
  • picture of a middle-aged man, warning that he’s living in a certain locality and he is a convicted rapist and murderer.
  • missing person reports with accompanying messages begging everyone to share
  • Share-ing and Like-ing of competition links, willy-nilly
  • Instant noodles are coated with wax and cause cancer

Properly researched and checked, I have no problem with any of these things. But when it becomes indiscriminate, it then starts to gnaw at me. I note that many have taken to automatically re-publishing most of what flows in front of them with no filter whatsoever. Don’t they know they’re opening themselves up to libel suits? Or that they’re annoying their (more enlightened) friends?

It’s the willingness to publish potentially libellous material without any source checks that is most worrying. If it’s written down, it must be true; after all, it is on the internet

Are gullibility levels high or are they now visible to everyone because of Facebook’s popularity?

Related articles:
5 Easy Ways To Get Sued On Facebook
You Can Be Sued For Libel For What You Write On Facebook
Warning: You Can Get Sued For Libel For Your Facebook/Twitter/MySpace Posts