Hoax Us, Or Poke Us? The Not-So-Magical Harm Of Internet Hoaxes

A hoax, according to Oxford Dictionary, is a humorous or malicious deception. Funny, right? Maybe, but not when the internet is involved. People have been “hoaxing” for centuries. The Trojan Horse was even a hoax. We hear about it in all sorts of media. We learn about it on the internet. So what happens when people start hoaxing, not in real life, but by typing a few words on a keyboard to be put onto the web? And more importantly, why would anyone ever do that?

There is an old quote, popularized by Harry S. Truman, that I have heard for years: “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.” A strange concept at first, but when applied to internet hoaxes, it adds a tremendous amount of reason. People create fake deceptions to alter one’s viewpoint, confusing them, which leads to false belief. People internet hoax to prove a point, to con those in disagreement, or out of their own amusement. For example, a youtube video came out a few years ago of a hoax to have someone appear as Justin Bieber. The hoaxers’ had “Bieber” eat a burrito on a park bench in a strange manner, eating it from the center first. While this video became viral and met the goals of the said hoaxers, it could be viewed as harmful to fans and the real Bieber: These actions of fraud could be categorized as degrading defamations.

Internet hoaxes are harmful. They trick people, regardless of how playful the subject matter is. I have been internet hoaxed; the world has been internet hoaxed. Trickery and foolishness spread globally via media can and will never lead to a positive outcome. Internet hoaxes are not going away anytime soon. But neither is the peoples’ power to stop them.


Olivia Matalon, NHSMC

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