How to discern a social media hoax

Published: Jul. 11, 2017 at 6:52 PM CDT
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A social media hoax is circulating in Rapid City. A message was sent to residents claiming you need to block a man named Jayden K. Smith who is requesting to be friends, and to forward to all of your friends. The message itself is fake.

“If you get a message like this, there are certain signs to look out for,” said Allison Gilmore, department head of humanities and social sciences at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

There are signs to help discern fake messages. Names are problematic, when you focus on details, it falls apart, and the profile of the person sharing will be thin.

In this message, the name is problematic. It's referring to the son of actor Will Smith, but the name is not spelled correctly.

“Look into the context, content, the basis for these claims,” said Gilmore.

Facebook is cracking down on social media hoaxes, with Mark Zuckerburg saying, “ We don't want any hoaxes on Facebook. We have already launched work to flag hoaxes, and we will continue to improve this.”

Accepting these messages can be dangerous because someone now has access to your account and can steal information.