What if I told you that a Facebook post to raise awareness about an animal issue has (as of this writing) 2,200 likes and more than 178,000 shares? Pretty good, right? But then what if I told you the information presented in the post was false?
The post in question is one of a handful of usual suspects that make their way around the Internet this time of year. This one depicts a flyer that claims that October 31 is “trying to become National Kill a Pit Bull Day.”
“Keep All Dogs in a Locked House,” is a headline in the flyer that warns it’s not just about pit bulls. It says that no breed is safe, so just stay inside.
We’re very lucky to live in a day and age when the spread of information is so immediate. But with the Internet, we also have the ability to research things.
An article from earlier this year reports that the spread of false information on the Internet happens all too often. People seldom read the entire story before sharing, if they read any of it at all. Does the headline sound good? Cool, share it regardless of what the article actually says.
This what-the-heck, thoughtless sharing happens every day on Facebook and other social networking sites. And just like the “National Kill a Pit Bull Day” example, all it takes is a quick Google search to find out that it’s just a hoax. This particular one has been a hoax every year since it started in 2012, according to snopes.com. But still there are nearly 200,000 additional Facebook shares so far this year alone. The crazy thing is that it was originally circulated in 2012 as a shot at a local Missouri councilman trying to pass an animal ordinance, the first draft of which was focused on pit bulls.
Animal welfare is riddled with myths and hoaxes, some of which we’ve written about in past blogs. Some are just silly, but some, like this one, appear to be spitefully intended to play on people’s fears. It’s unfortunate that these hysterical myths seem to be much more “shareable” than everyday stories of animals in need.
So, please do a quick check on Snopes.com or Google before you post. And when something like this crosses your screen, do your part and let the sender know they’re not helping.
As for “National Kill a Pit Bull Day,” the main thing you should guard against is your dog getting into the candy or being freaked out by the creepy costumes. Have fun, and be safe.
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Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
Best Friends Animal Society