COLUMN: Need to take social media with a pinch of salt

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So the Facebook ‘scam’ has reared its ugly head once again - this time in the form of a nationwide water park tour of the UK promising a fun-filled day of slides, rapids and water coasters.

Over 2,500 people from Sheffield alone were duped in to signing up to the event, which is reportedly another hoax designed to lure people into parting with their personal details in exchange for registering. Sheffield Council has not received an application for the event to be licensed.

This comes just weeks after a number of Facebook events advertising a Total Wipeout tour in cities across the country were cancelled amidst rumours that the whole thing was fake.

I hold my hands up, I was one of those click-happy social media reprobates who clicked “going” as soon as the event popped up on my Facebook. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see a huge, free water park pop up in the middle of Sheffield during the summer?

Admittedly, as soon as I started thinking about the logistics of creating a water park in Sheffield for just one day I did start to question the plausibility of the whole operation and had the organisers asked me for personal details I would have told them to shove it.

However, other Facebook users might give into temptation and sacrifice personal details which would result in them being bombarded with a barrage of spam in the form of emails, text messages and phone calls from third-party marketing companies

Facebook is the world’s biggest social media network with over 1.5 billion monthly active users. Over 30 million have a Facebook account in the UK – a figure which amounts to nearly half of the population.

So there’s 30 million people at risk of being conned into giving away personal information and although we may pride ourselves on not being gullible enough to fall for anything which seems too good to be true, sometimes we just can’t help ourselves and we’re sucked in by tantalising offers or action-packed days out. Recently a Facebook post offering Rayban sunglasses at a discounted price went round people’s news feeds. The shared post gave users the chance to buy the exclusive sunglasses for a fraction of the retail price. In reality, buying them would result in your card being cloned and you being sent a fake pair which cost about £2. This trend of Facebook cons and swindles shows absolutely no signs of stopping, with even Mark Zuckerberg unable to put an end to this vicious circle of online deception. I think we all need to bear in mind that everything we read or hear about on social media has to be taken with a pinch of salt. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.