“If one hundred people join this group, I’ll travel to Darfur and donate a lot of money there.” That’s what one group administrator claims on his group page. Another one promises to send someone to college if 50 thousand people join a certain group. Still, another one claims that the group creator will donate $1 for each 100 members to a worthy cause. These groups are all springing up on Facebook, and majority of them are clearly viral groups that are nothing more than simple jokes or hoaxes that can never be verified nor disputed. The funny thing is that people are actually buying into such stories.
These groups are based on a viral spam/hoax premise, similar to emails that claim you’ll earn cash, or help a cancer patient, if you forward those emails to all your friends.
The groups of this type on Facebook are doing the same exact thing. No one is asking why the fate of ones’ education rests on a group having many members, or how one would get money to plan a trip to Darfur simply by having thousands of members on Facebook, even when no member on facebook earns money because of this. Nothing about the promise can be verified either, thus rendering it almost impossible to find out if the group owner actually fulfils her/his promise or not.
The only thing that can be verified is that the group admins got what they wanted; a frenzy where people believe that something will actually happen simply because it’s facebook, and simply because someone with a real name and a picture on facebook promises to do something. While some group admins do intend to follow up on their promise, majority of the groups claim things that are either not important enough to be verified, or are too complex to be observed. From going to Darfur to buying a car for a homeless person to donating to a cancer patient to going back to school, there is a group out there that will cater to your needs. If you can’t find a group that promises to adopt penguins and unicorns if a million members join that group, let me know. I might start such a group.
This is a small new turn for spreading unverifiable viral information and promises. Nowadays, we don’t click the forward button that much in our email; we click the “Join” button on Facebook and MySpace.