Facebook, personified, is a well-meaning, oversharing aunt who just loves dogs-who-are-friends-with-birds videos. Twitter, her wise-ass son with a penchant for going off. Of a different generation, and yet still in the same family, is Instagram, her tiny shirt, big pants-sporting niece whose preferred mode of communication is DMs and who most definitely does not fall for viral chain mail hoaxes. Or so I thought. But suddenly, everyone is getting all gullible on Instagram, and it's weirding me out. Why did so many people fall for that so-obviously-phony chain mail-esque Insta-hoax?
Some high stakes for such a sloppily constructed message. And so many questions! Like, what is Channel 13 News? Also, every mention of Instagram appears bolded, like it was just filled into an already-existing template. And, unsurprisingly, it was — this exact warning made the rounds on Facebook in 2012 and duped users then, too.
But this time around, celebrity engagement had a big, messy hand in spreading the misinformation. Among the offenders: Scooter Braun, Judd Apatow, Julianne Moore, Julia Roberts, Taraji P. Henson, Wacka Flocka Flame, and...Rick Perry, head of the Department of Energy, all of whom posted the message, some with a little editorialising of their own in the caption section. (My favourite: Scooter Braun, who just wrote: "Safe.")
That so many were so quick to blindly believe and repost this fake news means that we're aware, at least abstractly, that our information is out there and vulnerable — and that we'll copy and paste anything to protect it.