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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Why to Start MeroFact Awareness Blog

Social networking services (referred to more broadly as social media) connect a user with his/her peers globally while sharing their wider interests. Social media are not just bringing the users into personal online conversations, they are also helping people to follow news, breaking news, advise, advertise, contribute to online debates or even learn from others. Social media messages are a form of communication used to encourage or persuade an audience to continue sharing or take some new action. The communications can be made either through internet based social media portals (eg. Facebook ) or cross platform instant messaging services (eg. Whatsapp, Hike). 

Influence of social media is growing so fast and so powerful that some experts suggest that social media will become the new search function for the users and will result in people spending less time navigating the original resources independently and analyzing them rather they would search for information or even make decisions based on “word of mouth” recommendations from their social media peers. This poses a challenge to establish effective rules for social networking services where everybody participates but nobody owns, but rules are necessary to maximize freedom with minimal risks in navigation. It is so common among the people that they hardly realize that freedom comes with certain responsibilities. As it comes for free people tend to misuse the freedom without having a thought about the collateral damage it can cause to others. The relative freedom enjoyed so far by social networking services has caused concern regarding the potential of its misuse by individual users.
           
At any point of time, there is likely to be many thousands of completely bogus, untruthful and even damaging messages (which I like to call merofact) propagating like a pyramid scheme via legitimate vehicle like sharing through wall posts, emails and instant messages. Some of them are newly created and others have been circulating in various forms for years. Many people ask the interesting question, “Why they originate at all”. Such messages are having so much variation in target audience, topic and intentions that there cannot be single definitive answer. We can broadly categorize all the merofacts into three groups based on interpreted intentions; Hoax, Advertisement and Scam. 

The motives of a scam are not hard to determine. Usually a widespread scam rewards the scammer in the form of stolen funds or stolen identities and distribution of an advertisement brings in legitimate benefit in either form to an advertiser whereas hoax creator hardly enjoys a tangible benefit from the viral spread of the hoax. Given the rather mystifying complexity of human cognition, there is likely to be quite a number of causes why people create hoaxes.
Merofact awareness blog will fight the spread of all those merofacts across platforms by growing awareness among larger audience. We will try our best to analyze and refute any merofacts we come across.  We need input from all our readers and friends in this area, please use the "message in a bottle" image on the right side panel on this page to report a circulating merofact to us. We also would like to have some comments from our readers and friends on our analysis and their presentation. Whenever possible we will provide link to the original knowledge resources we used in our analysis. 

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