My mother sent Instagram’s “viral hoax” in my families group chat in fear of what will happen with the content on our Instagram accounts. She sent us the photo that explained that “tomorrow starts the new Instagram rule where they can use your photos.” My mom even re-posted it herself, until my siblings and I told her to take it down. I even contemplated re-posting it until I came to the consensus that it was most likely not real.
— TanyaRivera (@TanyaRiveraOn2) August 22, 2019
These viral hoaxes are fear-provoking and believable within its context. A professor at Syracuse University explains that we are not stupid because we believe it, these hoax’s stick due to the way people process information. She explains, “We often make snap decisions based on how the information adheres with our existing worldviews.” People create these viral hoax’s to gain attention, and sometimes it works. The actual “hoax” itself is harmless; however, it becomes harmful when people fall into the trap. It is especially detrimental when celebrities with large followings and top media cover the issue because it becomes believable and “real”. An example of a recent viral hoax is the “Momo Challenge”. An image of a possessed and terrifying chicken lady pops up in a game that targets children to promotes violence. YouTube commented on the issue:
We want to clear something up regarding the Momo Challenge: We’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies.
— YouTube (@YouTube) February 27, 2019
This hoax led parents in fear of the child’s online activity. Although it has never proven that this hoax increased violence in children, I believe it is incredibly harmful, much like most hoaxes.