Fake fundraising efforts for the Haiti disaster are spreading like wildfire on Facebook. Dozens of fan pages have been set up, urging users to join and promising a $1 donation for each member. One group this weekend attracted 1.5 million members before it was disabled.
Meanwhile, during the weekend, Facebook officials had to beat back a rumor that the firm had promised a $1 donation for every member that changed their status to include a message about Haiti.
“This status is being tracked, the owners of facebook have confirmed they will send $1 to the rescue fund for the Haiti earthquake disaster for everytime this is cut and paste as a status,” read one form of the bogus claim. “You only have to leave it for a minimum of 1 hour. Lets all do our bit to help.”
Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said the firm took aggressive steps to quell the rumor. It posted a note on its blog on Saturday warning about the bogus message.
“Beware of scams and hoaxes and ensure that your donations for Haiti get to the right places,” the social networking company wrote on its blog. Contrary to a current meme, Facebook is not donating $1 for statuses, however we are sharing reputable resources via the “Other Pages” tab on the Global Disaster Relief on Facebook Page.”
Later, Facebook began outright blocking the status update. When users come upon a page with the bogus update, a warning message pops up which says, “This message is fraudulent. For legitimate ways to help those in Haiti, please visit the disaster relief page.”
The fake fan page fund-raisers had spread, seemingly, to all parts of the globe. Examples could be found claiming to be based in the United Kingdom, and in multiple languages. One Spanish group currently has 215,000 fans, for example.
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