My post yesterday talked about scams that propagated by money or control or ignorance.  Today I received a message on Facebook that is ever as much a scam, but it is the kind that pulls on your heart strings instead of your purse strings.   The message came in as

URGENT ……… To all the parents whose children — have a profile on facebook! There is a man who tries to make contact with the children to talk about sex. His name is Thierry Mairot. please, copy and paste on your wall! Thank you for protecting your children! PLEASE share as an emergency. He poses as Justin Bieber! His profile appears as Justin Bieber! PLEASE SHARE (( shared from a friend of mine – pass it along ))…..

We all want to protect our children and grandchildren from people like this, and so we pass this along to warn our friends.   Instead, I first checked Snopes.com.  I went to the site and typed in “Thierry Mairot” into their search box at the top right corner of the page.  I found an entry that had a very similar message to the one above.   Let’s look at what Snopes provides you.

  • At the top of the entry, Snopes provides a rating of the veracity of the message.  A red dot (such as the one at the top of the page about Mairot) means the rumor has been shown to be false.  If the dot were green it would mean the rumor has been shown to be true whereas a yellow dot means that the rumor is unconfirmed and a white dot means the rumor cannot be classified.  Of course if there are multiple parts to the rumor, it might get both red and green dots meaning that there are some parts that are true and others that are false.
  • The next information is an example of the message that has been investigated.  You will note that the one on Snopes does not mention Justin Bieber, but is, in essence the same message.
  • Associated with that example is a date when it was seen.  Note in this case, Snopes first started investigating the rumor in September 2010!
  • After that summary information, Snopes will provide a discussion of the origin of the rumor (to the best of their ability to track it down), and the variations it has taken over time as well as related rumors (in this case, the related rumors include “social deviants” posts).
  • Finally Snopes provides the last date the entry was updated.  In this case it was last updated in October 2010, meaning they have found no new information about the rumor since that time.

Checking Snopes.com allows you to dismiss the rumor without further action.  So, you will not generate lots of spam by forwarding it onto your friends and relatives.  You also will not annoy your children and grandchildren on a non-issue, and hence are more likely to keep those channels of communication open for when there is really a problem.

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