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Five times social media fooled the world

Within such a short period of time we have invested our energy and trust in social media channels in return for the satisfaction of knowing we have access to the latest news from around the world.

The big catch is – we’ve given our trust too willingly. We’re using social media as a reliable source of news and even search giant Google has partnered with Twitter so that Tweets are now included in Google search results.

Although there are plenty of times we can thank social media for breaking news stories, there’s also lots of times we’ve been lied to. From hoax death rumours to fake battles, here’s how social media has fooled the world:

1.    R.I.P Morgan Freeman 

We’ve all been there, you have a cheeky check of your phone when you’re out with friends, your heart sinks, your Facebook friend just liked a page entitled ‘R.I.P Morgan Freeman’, you click on the page; over 800,000 people like it. You then break the news to your friends: Morgan Freeman is dead.


Only, Morgan Freeman isn’t dead. In fact he’s probably sat in an LA recording studio practicing his latest sultry voiceover, but if Facebook says he’s dead we believed it until he shows up alive and well later that day.

2.    Travel the world without leaving your living room

When does ‘holiday spam’ go too far? When your friend posts pictures of the leaning tower of pisa from every angle possible? When your mum and dad couldn’t quite work the focus on their camera but post the 500 blurry pictures to Facebook anyway? We think it’s probably when you spend five weeks in your room pretending to travel around Asia.

That’s what 25 year old Zilla Van Den Born did last year. Zilla spent hours photoshopping herself onto idyllic beaches and even set up a fake skype backdrop to fool friends and family.


3.    Fooling IS

Boredom can lead people to do silly things but one London man recently became so bored that he decided to use his influence on Twitter to set up a fake battle involving the Islamic State and Shia and Iraqi government fighters.

The Twitter user fooled people by posting fake updates on Twitter, including photoshooped battle scenes and maps, even anti-IS forces and IS supporters started to believe the battle was real.

4.    I Have A Dream

People went crazy for this fake Tweet from Paris Hilton in 2013:


It helps that Hilton’s offline personality made this update more believable…

5.    Pay to use Facebook

Oh the irony. Even a social media channel isn’t exempt from becoming an online hoax.

Millions of people were outraged that Facebook had plans to charge $2.99 a month but they should have saved their anger, as it turned out to be just a nasty rumour.

So, how do you avoid being fooled on Facebook or taunted on Twitter? Here’s our tips:

Do your research, don’t see something trending and instantly think it’s true. A quick Google search can put any rumour to bed
Stick to live streaming apps such as Meerkat and Periscope, it’s a lot harder to lie when you’re streaming live (although it’s probably still possible…)
Read newspapers – we work in PR so of course we’re going to be advocates of newspapers but they’re still around for a reason