Type amen, click like and share…

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Phising postI created what proved an interesting discussion on Facebook recently when I threatened to ‘unfriend’ anyone who continued to out those obnoxious ‘type amen and share’ posts on their timelines.

Now if you’re a FB user, you have seen these things endless times. They’re as common as the “50% will get this math question wrong” and “you won’t believe what happened next!” or the “Nine out of ten can’t answer these questions” posts. Most of these are simply trolling posts that lead to pages replete with clickbait, scams and data collection bots.

Then there are those dreary click-farming posts. Press K and hit like to see the magic image. Type your age and click like to see your reward. I’ll bet she can’t get 1,000 likes. or 10,000. Or 100,000. It’s all about gathering the clicks (and figuring out which FB accounts are active so you can be targetted for advertising more easily). While they are initially posted by hackers or marketers, it’s the gullible who spread them around.

And don’t get me started on the hoaxes. Mark Zuckerberg giving away millions. Facebook is making all your posts public so share this legal disclaimer. All codswallop and easily debunked with a couple of quick searches.

As if anyone would take the time. It’s simpler to turn the brain off, click like and share. Spread the stupidity.

And of course we have the usual dreck of cute kitten and puppy posts, but they’re merely trite compared to the often dangerous stuff that leads to a phishing site.

It’s the same with the Jesus-amen-blessing-prayer posts. They’re created by hackers preying on your gullibility, not some religious message from your god. Do you really think Jesus has a Facebook account and reads your timeline? Stop spreading this crap.

Most of us despise this nonsense. It clutters our already overly-busy timelines, detracts for actually engaging with people or having meaningful discussions. (Okay, so there aren’t a lot on social media, but the potential is there…)

But the feedback over my curmudgeonly comment about “amen” and prayers” suggest that some folks are easily offended when you appear to impinge on their religion. Without thinking about what you’re really saying.

Now I don’t know what your religious bent is, but I don’t think many people actually believe that whoever their deity is, that he/she/it reads Facebook or Twitter. And you have to be really, really soft in the head to think that typing anything into a FB comment line is actually accomplishing something for the benefit of others (aside from our collective amusement).

But one woman replied:

I guess you will want to unfriend me then,becaue (sic) those type of post I won’t stop sending but will continue to pray for you. Have a good day Ian.

And later she commented: “you are either agnostic or athest (sic).” Which may be referring to me or to another person in the thread who admitted to ‘unfriending’ people who posted similar material. Either way, it’s not about religion. It’s about common sense and cyber security.

And what does belief have to do with not wanting to see frivolous pap on my timeline?

Yes, it’s also about the aesthetics of clutter, and the anti-intellectualism of these posts, but it’s not about prayer or god, or faith, or Christianity at all. Well, I hope not. I admit I’ve never seen one of these pseudo-religious posts based on any other religion aside from Christianity.

Some of whom are apparently very prickly when they think another person is impinging on their religion (often unwilling to give others the religious freedoms they demand for themselves,but that’s another post…). Are Christians (especially American, fundamentalist Christians) more gullible for these scams than other faiths because they leap to their defence without thinking them through?

But it’s not about religion. The only way to drain the swamp of social media is to stop sharing the garbage, even if it has some pseudo-religious face to it. It’s simply no better than spam email.

Now, I don’t have much tolerance for those who pray as a substitute for actually doing something. Praying for some sick kid, for the victims of a mass shooting, for starving villages doesn’t do anything. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Well, okay, it assuages your conscience so you feel like you’ve done something, without the effort of having to actually do it or donate. But it didn’t cure cancer, didn’t stop the NRA from buying politicians, didn’t feed the poor. Volunteering might help. Donating might help. Dragging your NRA-subservient senator behind your car might help. But prayer? Nothing to date. And praying for Facebook posts hasn’t improved that track record.

But let’s not get sidetracked. I know why devout people pray and I understand the emotional and psychological effects and even benefits, even if I don’t pray myself, or share their faith. But it’s especially pointless when you pray for something you saw on Facebook because it’s more likely than not to be a hoax.

And don’t take my word for it. There are dozens of websites that explain how hackers and phishers and marketers use these posts to con and scam the gullible. You just need to put the brain into gear and do some research. Here’s what one sites says:

This collecting of information by scammers is another like-farming, data mining or information-mining scam that we have seen before, which collects Facebook users’ publicly available information for scammers and spammers. Once scammers have gotten a hold of the information, they will use it to make their scams more convincing to their potential victims, by referring to them by their names and providing them with information that they think only people that they know, would know. Scammers may also send friend requests to their potential victims, and once the requests are accepted, the scammers will send lottery scam email messages, malicious and phishing links their potential victims. We have seen cases where the scammers cloned a potential victim’s Facebook account and send friend requests to the potential victim’s friends.

And here’s another comment from a different website:

…posts claiming that you can help a pictured child or animal by liking, sharing, and commenting ‘amen’ are like-farming scams. The images used in these scam posts are stolen from other websites and used without permission. Typing ‘amen’ and sharing the posts will do nothing whatsoever to help the pictured child or animal.

So stop sharing this junk. Right now, please. And yes, I will ‘unfriend’ those who continue to do so. I’ve already ‘unfriended’ gun nuts, racists, Trump supporters and conspiracy wingnuts, so I won’t lose sleep over ‘unfriending’ anyone stupid enough to fall for this pseudo-religious bullshit. My patience, my tolerance for stupidity and gullibility, for scams and cons and hoaxes seems to be nearing the end of its metaphorical rope.

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