Facebook is investigating a post that asked users to like, comment, and share a picture of a baby who the poster falsely claimed had cancer.
“This little baby has cancer and he needs money for surgery,” wrote user “Pooran Singh” in the post. “Facebook has decided to help by giving 1 like = 2 dollars. 1 comment = 4 dollars. 1 share = 8 dollars. Please don’t scroll down without typing amen.”
The post received hundreds of thousands of likes, over 1,200,000 shares, and nearly 150,000 comments before being removed by Facebook, while the image of the baby covered in spots was actually taken from an interview with the child’s mother after her son received a bad case of chicken pox.
“We were warned people might take his pictures… because if you Google chickenpox his pictures are there,” said the pictured child’s mother, Sarah Allen, to the BBC. “So, we were well aware that might happen, but not in this respect, to say he had cancer.”
“What’s so disgusting [is] it’s not just Jasper’s pictures but [about] 100 of other people’s families as well,” continued Allen, highlighting the fact that “Pooran Singh” had also posted other pictures of hospitalized children claiming users would get bad luck if they didn’t interact with the posts. “Facebook needs to take action.”
Facebook and other social media platforms frequently feature scams and fake pictures in an attempt to generate interactions and financial return.
“There are a lot of scams that use these kind of emotional images – oftentimes it’s done to make money,” explained security blogger Graham Cluley. “They may later post something that claims you’ve won a prize and try and get you to enter your mobile phone number and then sign you up for a premium rate service, or ask for other personal information.”
“The problem is that people just believe things that are posted online, and they need to be a lot more careful about what they like and share,” he continued.
Facebook is currently reviewing the case.