Chain letters are nothing new—they’ve been around longer than many of us have been alive. They have, however, adapted to new technology. Facebook Messenger is the current hotness for chain letters, and it’s time to stop sharing them.
Let’s Talk About Chain Letters
If you’re below a certain age, you may have never even heard of a chain letter. These letters—which, in fact, started as hand-written pieces of mail—were generally shared as ways to gain good luck, a small fortune, or some other good fortune just by sharing a letter. The letters typically encouraged you to make copies and distribute them to a certain number of friends.
And, just like today, they were all a load of crap.
Whether you’re familiar with the term or not, chain letters are still very much a thing today—they’ve just changed platforms over the years. From old school snail mail, to email, and now to messenger clients.
If It Sounds Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is
One of the most common types of chain messages is one that promises good fortune for the sharer—who can forget the “Bill Gates is sharing his fortune!” emails from a few years ago?
Or, in other situations, offers help for others. We’ve all seen these: “Facebook is offering to donate $0.10 to little Timmy’s cancer treatment every time this message is shared!” Sorry guys, no they aren’t.
I hate to be the guy who tells you this, but none of that true. Facebook, Google, Messenger, Apple, Microsoft, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, nor anyone else in a similar position is looking to just give money away because you shared a message.
You have to ask yourself: does this sound too good to be true? Because if it does, then it probably is. Period.
That Rule Goes Both Ways
Ah, but what about all the negative stuff? I got this message just a few weeks ago:
Please tell all the contacts in your messenger list not to accept anything from Fabrizio Brambilla. He has a photo with a dog. He is a hacker and has the system connected to your messanger account. If one of your contacts accepts it, you will also be hacked, so make sure that all your friends know it. Thanks. Forwarded as received. Hold your finger down on the message. At the bottom in the middle it will say forward. Hit that then click on the names of those in your list and it will send to them
…Seriously?! No, Fabrizio Brambilla doesn’t have access to your Facebook account just because you accepted his friend request. For one, that’s not even possible. Secondly, why are you just accepting friend requests from random strangers anyway?
So the rule isn’t just for good news! If something sounds unreasonably moronic, guess what? Yeah, it probably is.
I don’t even understand why these exist in the first place—who is writing this crap and what are they trying to prove?
Just Use Common Sense (or Research)
Noticing a common theme here? Just think about messages before sharing. If it sounds too good to be true, it surely is. If it sounds unrealistically bad, then it’s not worth sharing.
That’s the key when it comes to sharing things on Facebook (or any other network for that matter). Read it, and then spend a few seconds thinking about it. If it doesn’t sound right or is otherwise too outlandish to believe, then don’t share it.
Otherwise, just fact check it! If the thing you’re considering sharing is from an official news source with a link, look into it! Most of this sort of chain mail garbage originates from just a message with a body of text, however—not links or anything else that can confirm the story.
A quick Google search can go a long way, though. It took about 20 seconds to find this result by search for the text in the above-quoted message. Who knew that Fabrizio Brambilla wasn’t a l33t hax0r?!
But seriously, poor Fabrizio. I bet he’s having a hard life now, with the false accusations and all that.
This is All to Say One Thing: Just Stop Forwarding Annoying Messages
Look, chain letters have been around longer than me, and they’ll probably still be around long after I’m gone. But that doesn’t mean we can’t all work together to at least try to stop sharing stupid crap on the internet and make the future a better place.