Home / Fall 2016 / Going Viral: How easy is it to fool people online? Rise of social media leads to hoaxes and memes

Going Viral: How easy is it to fool people online? Rise of social media leads to hoaxes and memes

Phot Credit: Pexels

Written by Olivia Studdard, Staff Writer

Often times while scrolling down the newsfeed on Facebook, it is inevitable that someone will have once again shared the privacy hoax that says Facebook will share profile’s information with the public. Every single year, more people fall for it, even though Facebook has long since assured the public that if any changes were made to the privacy that the announcement would not take place over a status update.

So why does this keep happening? Why are people so gullible?

If anything has proved the internet’s ability to share information quickly it is the worldwide spread of memes. Last year it was the dress that magically changed colors every time you looked at it, this year it’s memes about the gorilla that was murdered earlier this summer named Harambe. An image can be uploaded to the internet and within hours spread across the globe to anyone who can see.

Celebrities are playing into the cause, often inviting guest stars from videos or pictures in for interviews and questions about how they rose to popular fandom out of nowhere.

The rise of social media is very largely responsible for much of the widespread viral pictures and videos. Many students have at least one meme, viral video or random picture that comes to mind when they think about something going viral.

“Someone posts something they think is funny on the internet, then it’s shared repeatedly,” said junior, nursing major, Grace Snaza. “I don’t know why it happens. Fame, popularity, pure entertainment.”

With all the debates circulating mainstream media, it’s nice to have a change of pace by scrolling through videos and pictures that people have posted.

One thing that has gone widespread recently is the introduction of a dance called, “Juju on that beat.”

“It’s just funny,” said junior, athletic training major, Jose Canelon. “I heard it once, then again, then everyone is posting videos online of them doing the dance. It makes me want to get up and do it too.”

When actions are shared repeatedly on the internet, the story gets lost in between the lines. It’s similar to playing telephone as a child, when a phrase is whispered from person to person and the end result is completely different.

This is similar to the story about the balloon boy, where the media had the entire internet up in arms freaking out about the mysterious disappearance of a six-year-old boy who had allegedly ventured into a hot air balloon that had floated off. The story ended with court sentences for both parents, who had been faking the disappearance the entire time by hiding the boy in the upstairs attic.

Whatever is put on the internet stays there forever, although most hoaxes and memes only last in fandom a few weeks at most. Whether it’s a dress, a balloon boy, or boys shouting profanities at their friend Daniel’s shoes, the draw to share and be a part of something will always capture our attention.

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