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.
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!
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.
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:
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.