Facebook won’t pay anybody. STOP reposting these images!

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Warning: Graphic Images

In the last couple of days my Facebook feed has been overrun with images of sick kids from hospital who need super-specialized medical care and their parents are too poor to afford it. I always dismissed it as faddists just spreading their brand of stupidity, but when I saw a couple of people I actually revere in real life do it, I was stunned. There are so many things that are wrong with giving any credence to these hoaxes that I just do not understand where to begin from.

Take for example, the latest “cancer kid” image that is doing the rounds stating that the kid is suffering from a severe kind of cancer called necrotizing fasciitis.

heartless hoax cancer kid

Now to come to the reasons why you should not repost these images:

1. Copyright Status:

Do you have any idea who owns this image? What are the copyright holders’ take on sharing them? No? Well, then the next time you see something like this, instead of sharing simply report it to Facebook as Scam/Spam!

report-picture

2. Permissions:

In many cases these images are shared by pranksters and hoax-mongerers who hide links to their affiliate sites within the description so that the sites get extra mileage based on human stupidity and misplaced compassion.

3. Can Facebook actually track you shares/clicks individually?

Instead of going “awww…its so heartbreaking” the next time you see someone claim that sharing the picture will help a poor sick child or something, I think you should rather think why FB would be tracking your every single move. I think it would be a rather creepy thing (especially in this age of SOPA and PIPA and stifling of intellectual freedom) if FB could track what photos I share or what links I like and stuff like that. Well, I am not a tech guy so I definitely do not know if such surveillance stuff is available, but what I do know is that if it is, then in the wrong hands, it might ensure we never have another Egypt uprising ever again.

4. Basing a life saving heart transplant on the number of FB likes. Yeah right.

I believe that FB is rich enough to help an ailing child if it wants to. I am not sure that they would descend to such debasing tactics in order to gain mileage in terms of time spent on site and stuff.

fb wont donate

This is anyways a spin off from the days when emails with such desperate please were sent around. Then it was the case of grabbing your email, now it seems the idea is to spread affiliate links and stuff.

The story of Zoe Chambers:

It is a heartbreaking story. Born with a congenital heart defect (Not specified here aside from suggestions of a valvular stenosis… I would go with aortic stenosis) she had six heart attacks and lived on an artificial heart before she got her transplant. The image that was hijacked from the website of the newspapers is a poignant one. It carries the hope and fear in the mother’s face and an unbelievable calmness in the sick child’s demeanor. This is an incredible image that could give a lot of hope to people with really sick kids:

zoe

It could remind us how resilient children are. How beautiful they are, even when a step away from death. Hell, it could even spark debates whether it was worth the costs, in terms of monetary and social investments, to keep these babies alive, because it is in contravention to basic evolutionary law of the survival of the fittest.

But no. It did none of those. Steven Williamson of the Hoax Slayer has stated the whole story. From his article in Hoax Slayer:

The heartless and morally bankrupt individual who originally misused this photo is a Jamaican who goes by the name of Garen Thoms. He had shared it on his fan (read scam) page on FB “Free Digicel Credit”. He also uses the name “FreeCreditGuy”. Initial investigation into this showed me he was using the photo to line his own pockets as the photo description included a link that led to one of his scam websites where people were tricked into making PayPal donations to his own company, thinking they were donating to a CHD cause. I exposed him on his fan page and thanks to Julie’s large group of friends in the CHD community the picture and indeed his fan page were removed from Facebook.

Julie Chambers was shocked especially since her child had eventually lost the good fight. Although organ transplantation can afford a lease of life, the complexities are immense and the longevity varies. However, when the images of the child and her mother resurfaced in this mutated connotation, it really took the social network by storm. Unfortunately, it made a morally bankrupt person a little richer.

So, the next time you see such an image, instead of reposting it and fuelling the fire, simply report it and try to spread awareness amongst your friends.

Pray for these sick kids if you so feel like, but a better idea would be to contribute in a tangible manner. If you have the time and the expertise to help as a professional, find some time to be with them. If not, then find a legitimate charity that does help them and contribute towards their funds.

But please, for heavens’ sake, DO NOT repost or reblog or share these images.

Skeptic Oslerphile, Scientist at the Indian Council of Medical Research, National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases. Interests include: Emerging Infections, Public Health, Antimicrobial Resistance, One Health and Zoonoses, Diarrheal Diseases, Medical Education, Medical History, Open Access, Healthcare Social Media and Health2.0. Opinions are my own!

0 Comments

  1. Thank you for posting this! This type of exposing the pictures of the sick is so disheartening and telling of the society we live in. We want to feel like we’re doing something to help, but at the same time we’re not willing (or maybe we don’t have the time) to take the tangible steps needed to help out. Instead we opt for pressing ‘like’ on a Facebook picture.

    I personally think these scams are wrong on many levels. I feel for the people who are virtually paraded on Internet sites for the benefit of the someone’s pocket. Will share with my FB community!

    • Thanks for the sensible take on this. It is a gut wrenching feeling to try and imagine what the victims of these images would feel like were they to see their images, their privacy and their lives violated like this. We all need to spread awareness about this, which is why I made this post. 🙂

    • I think facebook has to do something about all this disturbing pictures ,not because the kids are sickness ,its because I hate when this ignorant people say if you don’t put like in this pictures you will have 7years of bad luck this is crazy how can this help to this poor kids

  2. I haven’t seen any of these photos but they are of great concern. It is sad when the innocent and sick are victimized by those who wish to manipulate their situation… Thanks for shedding light on the matter.

    • I wonder how you managed to not come across these atrocities. They literally overrun my facebook news feed some days. But I guess you are lucky in a way not to have moronic friends. Anyways. If you do see someone sharing this, please let them know the truth. Please spread awareness about this matter.

      • I’m not on facebook that much but when I’m on I rarely see solicitation feeds. I’ll accept your comment that I don’t have moronic friends… TY! 🙂

    • Well, of late Facebook has become a great drain on my time. And when I saw perfectly reasonable people giving in to this kind of a hoax (amongst others), I really got disheartened. Anyways. Even I am trying to cut down on my FB time nowadays.

      • I hear you… I had to cut back on all my social media as other pressing matters needed my attention. I don’t miss the stress. Have a great weekend! 😉

  3. i dont know if parents really garner sympathy this way either…

    re Can Facebook actually track you shares/clicks individually?-i think it can/does…but i dont think it goes to that level!

    I am just cynical and dont repost this stuff… but yeah… this would make some people think before sharing. Good job.

    • Thanks for caring to drop a comment… I am sure that no parent would like their children’s illness plastered like this all over the web. I do not know about FB tracking our moves, but I guess its possible, but even so, I think Zuckerberg et al are rich enough to cough up some money if the wanna…

  4. I always check out anything I get like this because it is usually a hoax. necrotizing fasciitis isn’t even a type of cancer but a nasty infection (also called the flesh eating bacteria). Posting photos of sick kids and spreading it around the internet is just plain sick and to try to profit from it is just plain evil.

    • You are absolutely correct Allison. I put the NF in quotes for that reason. One can only wish that there were more people like you around to stop these things from proliferating! Thanks for dropping by and caring to comment. We need to spread more awareness about this issue. Thanks!

  5. A very sensible post. Brings out the negative side of display of suffering online, whether genuine or fake.
    [Btw, I – mamber of IndianTopBlogs – came to this post while reviewing your site and found it so well written that I could not resist posting a comment.]

    • WOW! Thanks Prabhakar. I am so glad that a reviewer of the best Indian blog curation site actually liked something I wrote! So, can I expect a glowing review? Maybe that will send some readers over to my li’l ol’ blog!

      On a more serious note, human suffering plastered like this all over the interwebs somehow seems immoral to me, even if done with the best of intentions, especially since people do not ask the person concerned for permissions.

      Anyways. Do let me know where I can access the review. Thanks!

  6. Thank you for this blog. I see so many of these, and I know the people reposting do it from genuine concern and mean well, but they’re being dragged around by sickos playing on their emotions.

    • Well, would you like images of your sick kid (or yourself or a friend for that matter) shared around the world by random strangers? I am appalled by the level of privacy breaches these actions constitute. I was having severe compunctions about posting these images on my blog as well, but I had to illustrate some of the cases doing the rounds.

      The next time you see someone sharing this kind of an image, even with the best of intentions, tell them what the reality is.

      Instead of spreading these images around, come let’s spread more awareness amongst people!

  7. Teymar is a very sick person for posting this,not just one but two different children on his FB page with all those sports photo of himself (hahaha) some sportsman????????????? He should be banned from sports for this and any titles or trophies with drawn for a stunt like this as well as being banned from FB

  8. You raise some good points here. In general, it always makes me confused when someone posts bad news on facebook and then people proceed to like it. Really? 300 people like that your Grandma has cancer? Thumbs up to that! Like the new site layout as well, what template are you using?

    • Thanks for dropping by and caring to comment. It is indeed a little strange that people end up liking weird stuff. But when people “Like” some bad news on my FB timeline, I assume they are doing that as a sign of solidarity and not because they are enjoying my misfortune… but then again, with human beings, you never really know!

      Sigh.

      I am using the Nuntius theme on wordpress.com – it’s a free theme and the closest to come to a magazine theme on the wordpress repertoire. Meanwhile, I am worried about the changes wordpress.com is bringing in and am considering shifting to my own hosting once I lay my hands on some money.

      • What changes have you heard are coming? I did a quick google search and didn’t see much other than minor changes, which seem typical for their updates

  9. Thanks PC. I fully agree. There is no end to the Human Stupidity in sharing and giving importance to such fake images in the first place.

    • The worst part is that I have seen completely sensible people partake in this fest of idiocy. Just makes me wonder what happens to us when we log into Facebook and see this “mob tendency” at work!

  10. I have been looking online for an article/blog post that accurately describes my feelings about this matter. Not only am I driven crazy myself about how gullible people can be, but I also don’t want to see pictures like the first one you posted on my news feed. Especially when I already feel sick. I do not look at my ‘friends news feeds’ so I can vomit all over my computer. Yes, these pictures are extremely disturbing to ME, which is all the more reason to NOT re-post them! I sure do not want to expose any of my friends or family to such nightmarish images. It’s not only cruel to expose loved-ones to this stuff, but it’s stupid of people to actually think that sharing ANY kind of image, weather it be of a severely sick or injured child or pet, or if it’s one of those even more idiotic pics with just a “Like this if you want to find a cure for AIDS. I know 99% of you won’t, but 1% will!!!” It’s sad how naive people are, even grown adults. Believe it or not, this kind of thing has happened for the entire life of the internet. I know, because I fell for a ’cause’ that turned out not to be real, when I was a teenager. Thank you for bringing the truth to attention!

    • Kris,
      The rule of thumb that I apply to whatever online stuff I come across is that if it is too good, too noble or too easy a solution (to a complex problem) to be true, then it probably is not true! I am sorry to hear about your brush with such causes. Each of us needs to be sensible and stop the others from committing such gullible mistakes.
      Thanks for dropping by and commenting!
      Cheers!

    • Whenever you come across such crap, please report it and inform and educate the poster about the fact that it is not cool to exhibit their lack of brain-power in public.

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