A couple of nights ago, I found myself sinking into a deep depressive state. As much as I wanted to turn the television off and escape the horrific details that were unfolding in Newtown, Connecticut – my conscience would not allow me to. My heart ached for those who couldn’t shut their television or radio off to escape for even a moment – my soul longed to be there with them – even if it was in spirit.
At the time, only names of the victims had been released. I took the time to look at the list and said each name, taking a moment in between to allow myself to reflect on the faceless individual. Within minutes of the the release of names, I began to see pages being shared on my Facebook feed. My instinct was to “Like” the page and share it too. Like me, the rest of the world was waiting to put names and faces to the horrible tragedy so we could join together in remembering the victims while pushing the name and face of evil to the pits of hell where he belongs.
As my thoughts and emotions teetered back and forth between sadness, heartache, anger and rage, I longed to do something to help those families. But what could I do? I’m in Indiana for crying out loud! To me, a simple donation was not enough. The mother in me, combined with the fierce protective instinct bestowed upon me by my birth sign of Cancer, would not allow me to stop with a single donation. I had to act, I had to protect!
I have worked online for many years – I have seen many scams and spam than many people will see in a lifetime of Internet use. When I began seeing Facebook memorial pages flooding my feed, I saw them for the scams they were – then I saw RED!
That was IT! I could make an attempt to put a dent in evil profits from the Sandy Hook massacre. I wrote a status update alerting my friends and family:
Then I let my motherly instinct kick in and posted on some of the more obvious fake pages –
The administrator of the page responded – we had an exchange of words for which I am not proud of since it was on a memorial page, even if it was a fake one. In the exchange, the person claimed to be pure of heart with their intention, but I challenged that by suggesting the admin reveal their true identity, you know, so the families would know who to thank and all. They never did. They even had the audacity to challenge the validity of the page I said was real. That challenge, in and of itself told me this was not a legitimate, heartfelt effort – this person didn’t even know that Emilie’s FATHER had mentioned the page when he gave his statement.
Instead, the fake-page-admin visited the page, stole the pictures and posted them on the fake page.
I scolded the admin for stealing pictures from the real page, that Emilie’s family and friends had shared. The admin stated they had not gotten them from Emilie’s page, but from “News Sources” (actual comment exchange shown here)
That was when I knew they would get theirs. Getty, especially, is known to be like rabid Pit Bulls when it comes to their images. A few simple “shares” in the right places would put the misuse and theft of Getty images right under their noses.
I was nice enough to offer a warning before I proceeded on my Getty alert mission – see…
With a few more “shame on you” posts, I felt I had accomplished something toward my mission of disabling, deleting and banning fake Facebook pages that had been set up in each victims name and some in the name of the school alone. My work on Facebook was done.
Next I wrote Fake Facebook Pages Designed to Exploit Sandy Hook Victims for Profit to show a step-by-step “how to report fake Facebook pages” in an attempt to get others to invest a few clicks to report fake pages with me.
Once the post was live, I called it a night.
This morning I was pleased to find Chris Morran at The Consumerist had seen my post and provided a link to it, along with greater detail of why all those “Likes,” Retweets, and shares add up to cash for scammers and spammers. Even though my own effort was pure, I didn’t want people to think I was trying to profit off this tragedy – as such, I wasn’t going to link to my own piece – I just prayed it would be found by the people who needed it or who would join the effort to stop (or put a big dent in) the disgusting practice.
Prayer answered! Thanks Chris!
Chris also provided a link to Technorati’s Shea Wong and a piece that explains, in-depth, just how social sharing is adding up to big bucks for underhanded marketers.
Now, I’ll admit, I was taken in by the Morgan Freeman post – as soon as I saw Shea’s mention in the above article, I went to Facebook and UNLIKED it! I couldn’t believe I had been suckered. But, I can assure you, I will be on high alert from now on!
Please join the effort to put an end to the profiting off such horrible tragedy! Spread the word by sharing each of these posts with your followers and friends.
If you know of other articles that discuss fraud surrounding Sandy Hook or any of the victims, please leave a comment with the link. I’d love to support the heartfelt effort of others too!