Facebook has had a couple of glitches lately. It wasn’t good timing. Mark Zuckerburg was telling us via the United Nations that he wanted to see the whole world connected to the internet, but his platform was down momentarily at the time.
Same thing had happened earlier in the week. So while the Facebook creator was stressing the importance of everyone being connected his users … um, weren’t.
This was mildly amusing, but users were experiencing another emotion at the time. Frustration. Not because the ability to post selfies had been denied for a very short period, but because when Facebook was working, their Timelines were being flooded with spurious posts. One new piece of news emerged – that Facebook were to introduce a ‘Dislike’ button.
Another old chestnut was also doing the rounds – that Facebook were to introduce a monthly charge to ensure privacy for those who wanted to restrict access to certain posts.
It’s true that Facebook want to provide a wider means of expressing feelings toward news being shared by friends.
They have recognised that nobody wants to Like an update that says ‘I’ve just broken my ankle’.
If you’re skipping through a busy newsfeed, catching up with a swathe of posts from a bunch of people, you might not have time to stop and type a reply to everyone.
That’s the joy of the Like button -- you can respond by effectively saying ‘I’ve seen your news and like what I’ve seen.’ But Like isn’t always an appropriate response.
Hence, Facebook is working on a wider range of responses, not merely a Dislike button.
The problem is that once news of this emerges, it opens the door for the phishers and scammers of the internet.
They quickly throw together a graphic inviting you to DOWNLOAD THE NEW LIKE BUTTON … NOW!! but in reality you’re clicking to a link that compromises either your Facebook security or even the integrity of your computer.
This is a hoax story which has been doing the rounds for five years or more.
Again, it’s something that the fraudsters know will be hot news in the Facebook community, and they know it’s a rumour that will spread quickly.
At its most innocent level it will generate clicks and traffic for a website or a Facebook page. At its worst, again, it could leave you vulnerable to phishing and scamming.
In any case, we already have control over our privacy. We can carefully select who can see what in our Timeline, and we can lock down our information tightly.
Check before you believe anything that sounds spurious, such as a new features suddenly appearing.
Firstly, Facebook has said time and again that the service to its users will always be free.
They make billions from advertising so they have no reason to charge little old you and me any money just to use the platform.
So any Facebook fee you see is a plan non-starter. Ignore any stories that say you’re going to have to pay, especially if the source does not provide links back to an official Facebook announcement.
Secondly, Facebook has ways of doing things. A dislike button would not suddenly appear to everyone.
Facebook rolls out features, drip-feeding them to selected users. So when when they’re confident that everything is working well, the rest of us get to use the feature in waves.
If you see something appearing overnight, something that is totally out of the blue, it’s unlikely to be true. You’ll have been reading about the upcoming new feature for days or weeks.
We encourage our clients to treat any Facebook ‘revelations’ with suspicion and to check with us if they feel an urgent response is needed.
There are also some excellent websites that allow you to check the validity of news stories.
We recommend Snopes and Hoaxslayer, but there are others.
Take a look at both sites’ home pages while you’re there. You might be surprised to discover that some of the other plausible-sounding stories you’ve read are absolute bunkum.
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