Hoax AMBER missing child alert swamps Twitter

Filed as News on October 15, 2009 11:08 am

98b351-tweetsTwitter and Facebook have seen a deluge of hoax messages about an abducted child, according to security firm Sophos.

You’ve probably lost count of the number of times a friend or colleague has sent you an email about a supposed virus that will destroy your computer, or some other urban legend that’s about five years old yet is still doing the rounds.

You may even have tried to educate people about checking out the facts before simply forwarding emails, with varying success rates.

Now, Twitter and Facebook are fuelling the fake AMBER alert about a missing child.

There are numerous problems with these hoaxes. They waste time and bandwidth, they mutate over time (a la Chinese whispers) and they may even reduce the effectiveness of genuine messages publicised by the organisations involved.

It’s not clear how these rumours started — the Sophos blog post doesn’t mention any malicious intent though we know that spammers often use sensitive, heartstring-pulling subject matter in their phishing and scamming attempts.

The fact is, though, that a lot of time and bandwidth is being wasted on this one. Please don’t add to the noise.

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