If you’ve been on Facebook at all, you’ve probably seen those pleading posts, featuring a very sick child or a suffering animal. Often the posts also show a picture of Jesus, with a request for the viewer to take action.
“Type Amen for this baby and share,” the post commands. “Keep scrolling if you’re heartless.”
Pretty soon, sometimes even in the course of hours or a few days, that Facebook post can be seen on the walls and news feeds of thousands of presumably well-meaning people.
But as in the case of a baby photo of Brenna that was used in a post like this in mid-December, which had been shared more than 23,000 times in a few weeks, we didn’t know it was being used until some of our Facebook followers alerted us, and we definitely did not give permission.
When it comes to posts like this, one share does NOT equal one prayer. One like does NOT mean you think the baby with a physical disability or difference is “still cute.” One comment does NOT mean the sick child or abused puppy “will be saved.”
Here’s what you’re actually doing when you type Amen or share the photo on your wall:
- You’re exploiting what is most likely a stolen image of a child whose family has no idea it is being used.
- You’re making the owners of the page that posted it or the twisted people who stole the photo and created the post a whole lot of money.
Appeals to emotion
How do like-farmers lure people into liking or sharing their content? As with any scam, it appears in multiple forms.
Many like-farmers rely on appeals to emotion: anytime you’re urged to “like” or “share” a post that pulls at your heartstrings or pushes your buttons, there’s likely a like-farmer behind it. “This poor little girl with cancer lost her hair to chemotherapy — ‘like’ this post to let her know she’s still beautiful!” “This new government policy is outrageous — ‘like’ this post if you’re outraged, too!”
Confession: I fell for a couple such like-farming scams myself, back when I was still new to Facebook. And I didn’t even realize it until a couple weeks ago, when I went on a nostalgia-crawl though my old Facebook “activity log” and was appalled to see that back in 2010 or so, I’d allegedly “liked” a couple pages advertising some scammy pseudo-scientific quack medications.
But of course I never “liked” any such nonsense; I’d actually “liked” posts shared by various friends of mine – probably posts to the effect of “’Like’ to let this little bald girl know she’s beautiful!” or “’Like’ if you’re outraged by this new policy!” – and only later, after the page collected enough “likes” for a high Facebook popularity ranking, did the page owner scrub the original content and replace it with ads for scam products.
Name a ‘FISH’
That does not
have the LETTER
‘A’ in it.
I bet you can’t 😉
Some of these non-challenging intelligence tests came from like-farmers, but most were local-radio or business clickbait — still driving up like-counts and cluttering your friends’ Facebook feeds, but at least they won’t likely spread malware or put money in a scammer’s pockets the way like-farming pages do.
If you’re going through your own old Facebook archives and discover you’ve “liked” a scammy page you don’t recognize, you can send Facebook a scam report for that page, and then click the “unlike” button to remove your own name from it.
When you don’t want to be “heartless,” so you respond to the request for “One Share = One Prayer” by sharing the image with your friends, you’re actually doing very real harm. Please think twice before you like, comment or share any posts like this on Facebook, so that you’re not participating in the exploitation of children like Brenna…