Category Archives: Hoax

Social Media Matters: Google continues to dominate online

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Dec. 21, 2012
Metro section

Google continues to dominate online

If you’re wondering which website is the most popular in the world, Google continues its rank in the top spot, according to Alexa.com. Here are the top 10 current websites globally, in Canada, and the U.S., including the global top 10 in a number of categories. Rankings are current to Dec. 17.

Alexa.comTop 10 websites in the world by rank: 1) Google.com; 2) Facebook; 3) YouTube; 4) Yahoo!; 5) Baidu; 6) Wikipedia; 7) Windows Live; 8) Amazon.com; 9) QQ.com; 10) Twitter. Baidu is a Chinese search engine, while QQ.com is a free Chinese instant messaging program similar to MSN.

Top 10 websites in Canada: 1) Google.ca; 2) Facebook; 3) Google.com; 4) YouTube; 5) Yahoo!; 6) Windows Live; 7) Wikipedia; 8) Twitter; 9) LinkedIn; 10) Amazon.com.

Top 10 websites in the U.S.: 1) Google.com; 2) Facebook; 3) YouTube; 4) Yahoo!; 5) Amazon.com; 6) eBay; 7) Wikipedia; 8) Windows Live; 9) Craiglist.org; 10) Twitter.

Top 10 newspaper websites in the world: 1) New York Times; 2) The Times of India; 3) The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition; 4) Washington Post; 5) USA Today; 6) Examiner.com; 7) Los Angeles Times; 8) The Sydney Morning Herald; 9) The Economic Times; 10) San Francisco Chronicle.

Top 10 magazines and e-zines websites globally: 1) Time Magazine; 2) Atlantic Online; 3) U.S. News & World Report; 4) mental_floss; 5) Readers’s Digest Magazine Articles; 6) Good Magazine; 7) Maclean’s; 8) Parade Magazine; 9) OpenDemocracy; 10) CJR Daily. It’s certainly nice to see a Canadian magazine — Maclean’s — right up there!

Top 10 real estate websites in the world: 1) Zillow.com; 2) Realtor.com; 3) LoopNet; 4) ActiveRain, Inc.; 5) AOL Real Estate; 6) RE/MAX International, Inc.; 7) Century 21 Real Estate LLC; 8) Land Watch; 9) Coldwell Banker; 10) Inman News Features.

I have to say, I’m surprised at the ongoing popularity of Yahoo! I rarely hear it cross the lips of anyone during discussions about online resources. If you’re unsure of the web addresses of any of the above, simply enter them in Canada’s most popular website, Google.ca, and you’ll find what you’re looking for quickly.

Connecticut tragedy swamps social media

The terrible mass murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, Dec. 14, caused shockwaves around the world. Social media was ripe with misinformation as news agencies, bloggers and others tried to one-up the other on getting out information as soon a possible. Unfortunately, in tragedies such as this, it seems to be par for the course. Misinformation during chaos existed long before social media, but it seems to be amplified that much more these days because of it.

Copyright © 1995 - 2008 Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). All Rights ReservedAmid the massive amount of sadness and shock, there were also quotes by celebrities. One of the most comforting shared was by Fred Rogers, the late beloved children’s television host, whose calming quote was shared widely, especially on Facebook: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Morgan FreemanAnother hoax-prone celebrity wasn’t as fortunate as to have himself accurately quoted, however. If it isn’t bad enough that actor Morgan Freeman is constantly battling online death rumours, he was falsely quoted on a rant about gun control that quickly went viral. Unfortunately, no one bothered to ask him if he’d actually written it. Of course, he hadn’t. Even after some were told that it was false, they continued to share it because they agreed with the rant itself. Emotion often takes over from common sense at times like this — even if it means spreading lies online, which is never justified.

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Every week, I feature YouTube channels for you to check out. Statistics are current to Dec. 17. Have a favourite YouTube channel? Let me know and I may feature it here.

Michael Bublé1) The Official Michael Bublé YouTube Channel (376,686 subscribers): The immensely popular Canadian crooner also has an immensely popular YouTube channel with more than 275 million views. Very impressive! Most of the recent uploads are from his excellent Christmas album, including a peek at a duet with Bing Crosby on Crosby’s iconic “White Christmas.” Thanks to video editing, it looks like they’re singing together. Creepy… but cool at the same time! (Most popular video: Michael Bublé – “Everything” (Official Music Video) – 40,380,758 views.)

Vsauce2) Vsauce (1,687,999 subscribers): According to its channel description, Vsauce provides “amazing facts and the best of the Internet.” Videos look at a variety of interesting questions, such as, “Will we ever run out of new music?” and “How many photos have been taken?” With nearly 1.7 million subscribers and more than 255 million total views, people are indeed wondering, too! Playlists include Atmosphere Science, Awesome Psychology, Best Optical Illusions, and Cool Things to Know. (Most popular video: What If Everyone JUMPED At Once? – 8,070,158 views.)

Since this is my last column before Christmas, I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas! Drive safely and enjoy your time among family and friends.

Social Media Matters: Even the pope can be found on Twitter

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Dec. 7, 2012
Metro section

Even the pope can be found on Twitter

You know Twitter’s a big deal when even the pontiff has caved in. Yes, Pope Benedict XVI has set up (or rather, his aides have set up) a number of language-specific Twitter accounts for the Roman Catholic Church’s 265th leader. The English account is @pontifex, while the

Pope Benedict XVI using a tablet
Pope Benedict XVI using a tablet. (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

French account is @pontifex_fr. Other accounts include @pontifex_es (Spanish), @pontifex_it (Italian), @pontifex_pt (Portuguese), @pontifex_de (German), @pontifex_pl (Polish) and pontifex_ar (Arabic).

The pope’s English Twitter account already had about 450,000 followers before he’d even sent his first tweet.

The royal fetus is on Twitter, too!

Engagement Portrait. Mario Testino/Clarence House Press Office via Getty ImagesWell, if the pope being on Twitter wasn’t monumental enough, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s fetus is on Twitter, as well. Of course, it’s an anonymous parody account (there are several of them), but the one I like the most is @RoyalFoetus. The tweets are amusing and about as pompous as you can get — everything you’d expect from royal offspring!

Sample tweets include: 1) Attention peasants: If you can rise from your dullard’s slumber for just a moment, one could do with a goblet of amniotic fluid; 2) In 9 months’ time, all one asks is that you swallow your wonderment and avert your gaze; 3) Prince Philip just came to visit. Maintaining dignified silence during racial slurs.

Top 10 Facebook pages

FacebookAs of Dec. 4, the top 10 Facebook pages based on the number of “likes” are: 1) Facebook for Every Phone (168,910,723 likes); 2) Facebook (82,034,748); 3) Texas Holdem Poker (the former longtime most popular page on Facebook) (66,989,827); 4) YouTube (66,143,329); 5) Rihana (63,358,486; 6) Eminem (63,277,502); 7) The Simpsons (57,218,682); 8) Shakira (57,197,570); 9) Coca-Cola (Coke) (55,827,671); and 10) Lady Gaga (54,062,120).

Top 10 Twitter accounts

TwitterAs of Dec. 4, the top 10 Twitter accounts based on followers are 1) Lady Gaga (@ladygaga: 31,812,961 followers); 2) Justin Bieber (@justinbieber: 31,032,919; 3) Katy Perry (@katyperry: 29,690,422); 4) Rihanna (@rihanna: 27,059,557); 5) Barack Obama (@BarackObama: 24,119,105); 6) Britney Spears (@britneyspears: 22,283,020); 7) Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13: 21,475,060); 8) YouTube (@YouTube: 20,321,894); 9) Shakira (@shakira: 18,872,513); 10) Kim Kardashian (@KimKardashian: 16,775,429).

Facebook hoax reminder

If you see someone on Facebook sharing a link or application purporting to enable you to see who’s been checking out your timeline, it’s all a scam. Don’t “like” or give these applications access to your profile. Also, if they ask you to fill out a survey, don’t do it. All you’re doing is getting tricked into filling out a survey so that someone else can get paid. All you’re doing is wasting your time.

As Christmas approaches, the Costco gift card scam will surely resurface again. Don’t fall for this. Costco is not giving a free gift card to “everyone on Facebook.” Just the ridiculousness of providing free gift cards to one billion users should make you think twice. Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it’s likely fake. Another common hoax that will likely pop up this holiday season to tear at your heartstrings is that liking a photo of a sick child will cause Facebook to donate money for life-saving treatment. Not true — and the photos are either outdated, stolen or fake.

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This week’s featured YouTube channels

Every week, I feature YouTube channels for you to check out. Statistics are current to Dec. 4. Have a favourite YouTube channel? Let me know and I may feature it here.

1) Freaky the Scary Snowman (209,156 subscribers): This YouTube channel features a variety of evil snowmen (actually actors dressed up in snowman costumes) who stand around in public places and scare innocent passersby. Yup, these are Frosty the Snowman’s evil doubles! Apparently, many people like seeing innocent bystanders being petrified by a scary snowman because the channel has a total of more than 47 million views! (Most popular video: Snowman Prank Season 2 Episode 1 – 7,995,537 views.) (Warning: Some strong language.)

2) XmasFLIX (2,085 subscribers): I’ve featured this channel before during the holiday season and can’t believe it only has a couple of thousand subscribers. The content is really good — lots of holiday-related gems and hard-to-find videos. Commercials, retro cartoons, oddities, politically incorrect (by today’s standards) videos that don’t seem terribly Christmassy in today’s context — it’s all there. The channel has a cumulative view count of 2.9 million. (Most popular video: Grampy: Christmas Comes But Once A Year (1936) Max Fleischer Production – 146,869 views.)

3) CrazyToonWorld (6,076 subscribers): This channel hasn’t been updated in a more than a year, but it’s chock full of great retro animated content — so much so that it’s accumulated nearly 9.5 million total video views! The channel’s description reads: “Hours of classic animation! Here’s a great collection of classic cartoons. A laugh a minute featuring all-time favorite characters and fun-filled antics from the golden age of animation.” There are lots of hard-to-find gems here, including Betty Boop, Felix the Cat, Popeye and Little Lulu. (Most popular video: Santa’s Surprise – 1,546,747 views.)

Social Media Matters: Fake copyright notice takes Facebook by storm

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Nov. 30, 2012
Metro section

Fake copyright notice takes Facebook by storm

On Monday, a new version of an old hoax took Facebook by storm.

The well-known copyright hoax lures Facebook users into a false sense of security by urging them to post it to their profiles in order to supposedly protect their private information. Unfortunately for them, posting the “warning” is pointless and means absolutely nothing other than wasting space. The only things that can prevent your privacy on Facebook are your privacy settings — or not being on Facebook at all.

In part, the fake copyright notice reads: “In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!”

If you spend any time on Facebook, you’ve likely seen this or versions of it circulate from time to time. I have to admit that it’s well written and looks official. It even cites a bunch of official-sounding laws and documents. Because of this, some very smart people are being taken in by it and assuming it’s real.

Again, if you’re ever curious about what’s real or not, just cut and paste the first sentence or two of warnings such as this into Google. If it’s fake, it will usually show up at the top of the search results. The version out earlier this week was so new, though, that it hadn’t made it onto the hoax sites until several hours after it started to spread, leading some to believe it was authentic when it didn’t show up as a hoax in searches.

Twitter account makes fun of rednecks

If you spend any time online, you’ve probably seen photos posted of people protesting against immigrants to the U.S., people who speak Spanish instead of English, etc. Many times, there are spelling mistakes on their signs for which they are mocked by those spreading the photos online. The point is to shame them for urging others to “speak English” in the U.S., yet they can’t even properly spell in English themselves.

An anonymous Twitter account poking fun at anti-immigrant or anti-Latino tweets was created a week ago and had already amassed more than 12,000 followers by Nov. 27. Specifically, the Twitter account @yourinamerica seeks to shame those who make fun of non-English speakers but who also don’t know the difference between “you’re” and “your”.

The creator of the account searches for the term “your in America” and then proceeds to correct each Twitter user on the proper spelling, especially if their tweet bears hints of (or even overt) racism or intolerance. Some examples include:

1) It’s “you’re.” Also, we speak English. RT @TestCase2Try Your in America, so your supposed to speak American people;

2) I think you mean “you’re” in America. That’s embarrassing. RT @JOJO__circus: Speak english your in america omg;

3) “You’re” in America. Please spell properly. RT @MeggWeezie: Your in America please speak English;

4) That makes no sense but it’s “you’re.” RT @Dyllanboo If your in America and can’t speak English then you shouldn’t own a donut shop.

These are hilarious, actually, and point out the hypocrisy of these tweeters who criticize non-English speakers but who can’t even spell correctly themselves. Not sure if shaming them will teach them a lesson, but @yourinamerica is trying!

Justin Bieber loses YouTube crown

Canadian pop superstar Justin Bieber has lost his crown as the King of YouTube videos. Until just a few days ago, Bieber’s YouTube video of “Baby (featuring Ludacris)” was the most-watched video on YouTube with more than 800 million views. Then along came South Korean pop star PSY with “Gangnam Style.”

Bieber’s video was uploaded on Feb. 19, 2010, and currently has about 806 million views, while PSY’s video was only uploaded on July 15, 2012, and already has about 836 million views. At its current rate, the “Gangnam Style” phenomenon will most likely become the first video on YouTube to read the one-billion views mark!

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Every week, I feature YouTube channels for you to check out. Statistics are current to Nov. 27. Have a favourite YouTube channel? Let me know and I may feature it here.

1) Dumb Ways to Die (37,815 subscribers): There are only two videos on this channel, including the namesake song, “Dumb Ways to Die.” At first, you think it’s just a novelty song with cute cartoon characters dying in terrible ways, but it’s actually a public service announcement for Metro Trains, the rail transportation system in Melbourne, Australia. Uploaded on Nov. 14, the ditty already has more than 27 million views, while the companion karaoke version has approximately 30,000 views. Created to raise awareness on train safety, the song went viral and spread very quickly. (Most popular video: Dumb Ways to Die – 27,038,447 views.)

2) The Canadian Beaver Band (317,214 subscribers): According to its channel description, “This is the official YouTube channel of The Beaver Party of Canada, featuring The Canadian Beaver Band, Canada’s most popular political satire band.” The channel’s 31 videos have a total of 317,214 views. Be sure to check out the very funny “Justin Trudeau Song,” too! (Most popular video: I Didn’t Do It (The F-35 Song) by The Canadian Beaver Band – 103,660 views.)

Tech Tuesday: Facebook copyright hoax runs rampant

If you were anywhere near Facebook yesterday, a newer version of a well-known Facebook copyright hoax spread like wildfire on the popular social networking website. Basically, a warning urged users to post a false copyright statement to their status updates.

Users were under the impression that their private data would be “protected” if they posted the warning. One billion Facebook users… who had to post one billion status updates to protect their information. As you can imagine, the hoax was quickly debunked.

Privacy settings OR simply not posting to Facebook are about the only things that will truly protect your private information.

Here’s a version of the fake warning:

In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention).

For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!

(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws, By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).

Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.

For more on this hoax, visit Hoax-Slayer.com or Gawker.com.

If you see this warning or something like it, you can assume with utter certainty that it’s a hoax. Don’t take the bait and don’t post it to your profile.

Social Media Matters: Twitter prank gets TV star in trouble

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Oct. 12, 2012
Metro section

Twitter prank gets TV star in trouble

MTV’s Jackass star Bam Margera found himself in a bit of doggie doo-doo on Oct. 4 when he posted the following to his Twitter account (@Bam_Margera): “Penny pooped in my bed. Not too fond of that. If it happens again, Penny goes Bye Byes!”

Click to enlarge.

The tweet was accompanied by a link to a photo showing Penny, his puppy, in Margera’s arms. Meanwhile, Margera has a toy gun pointed at the dog’s head. Unfortunately for Margera, he didn’t make it clear in the tweet that the gun was a toy, leading to much concern among some users that he was actually going to harm the dog.

According to an Associated Press report published in The Vancouver Sun on Oct. 9, Margera said, “he condemns animal abuse and didn’t mean any harm by a photo posted online showing him holding his pit bull puppy with a toy gun pointed to its head.”

The report went on to say that Margera “loves animals and wished he had made it more clear the gun was fake.” Meanwhile, SPCA officials were not amused and said the so-called joke was not funny.

Facebook and Twitter should be more accountable

Keir Starmer, the U.K.’s director of public prosecutions, “is exploring whether Facebook and Twitter should take more responsibility for policing their networks for abuse and harassment in an attempt to reduce the number of cases coming to court,” according to a report published in the British newspaper The Guardian on Oct. 9.

April Jones

Pressure has been mounting on the U.K. government lately after a number of arrests were made following harassing and vicious online comments, including a 12-week jail sentence handed down to a teenager who made so-called “sick jokes” on Facebook regarding April Jones, a missing five-year old girl. In another case, a man was sentenced to 240 hours of community service after posting a comment on Facebook that “all soldiers should die and go to hell” following the deaths of six British troops.

Another Costco hoax on Facebook

Apparently, Costco has become even more generous (and I say that sarcastically) on Facebook than they were before. Gee, they were offering $250 gift cards to Facebook users a few months ago and now they’ve upped the ante to $500 to every Facebook user… all one billion of them! (Facebook just reached one billion users.)

So, that’s $500,000,000,000 in free gift cards. And if you believe that and click on the accompanying link, all your Facebook friends are tagged in the fake gift card’s photo and you end up wearing the credibility fallout. The hoax started showing up in my Facebook feed late on Tuesday evening and within a few minutes after people started clicking on the link, it started spreading like wildfire and polluting everyone’s newsfeed.

Again, Costco is not giving away free gift $500 cards (or any other amount). If you see someone sharing this silly and ridiculously naive offer, please educate them not to click on the link. It’s a hoax and they risk being reported for spreading spam online.

How should Facebook stop this perpetual gift card hoax? My suggestion: every single user who clicks on these links should have their account suspended for 48 hours. Considering the huge role that Facebook plays in staying connected, it may just be the lesson that users need so that they stop clicking on this stuff “just in case” it’s true. Facebook really needs to send a message not only to the people who create this stuff, but to users who just blindly spread it without thinking.

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Every week, I feature three YouTube channels for you to check out. Statistics are current to Oct. 9. Have a favourite YouTube channel? Please let me know and I may feature it here. This week’s channels are all science-related.

1) SciShow (286,891 subscribers): This is a great science-related channel with nearly 300 videos that have amassed a total of nearly 21 million views. The videos take a scientific look at a variety of questions, such as, “Why aren’t there giant insects today?” Other topics include why we think things are cute, how caffeine affects you and the top five deadliest diseases. Yup, you could pretty much spend hours on here. Videos are organized into a variety of playlists touching on biology, chemistry, physics and astrophysics, to name a few. (Most popular video: Mind reading – 504,362 views.)

2) Smarter Every Day (274,278 subscribers): This channel is hosted by Destin (no last name provided) who is using the channel to raise funds for his children’s college fund, according to the channel description. (A link is provided to donate — sort of a “tip” if you think his content is useful.) The channel’s more than 100 videos have a very impressive total of just less than 26 million views. Hopefully, he’s getting some donations out of that! Destin also has a companion Twitter account at @SmarterYoutube (3,754 followers). (Most popular video: Improvising in Africa. Warning – GROSS – Smarter Every Day 28 – 6,393,940 views.)

Warning: This video may not be suitable for everyone.

3) Veritasium (100,528 subscribers): This is yet another very interesting channel loaded with videos of scientific experiments and various tricks. Hosted by Derek Muller, the channel has just more than 8.6 million total views and includes playlists such as Slinky drop, science experiments and misconceptions. Also check out the companion Twitter account at @veritasium (3,517 followers) and Facebook (facebook.com/veritasium – 77,281 likes). (Most popular video: Slinky Drop Answer – 1,081,364 views.)