If you’ve been on Facebook for some time, you will have seen one post or the other asking you to like it, share it, comment, or type Amen on it. And there’s a chance that you might have done it once or twice. To begin with, you shouldn’t have done it. Typing Amen or doing any of those things is plain wrong. Before we go into why it’s wrong, let’s talk about what it says about you.
Trust me. I’ve never thought of typing Amen on or liking or sharing any of such posts. Never! And I know a number of people who have similarly never done such a thing before. So why have you done it and some other people have never? What made you do it? It’s a trap, a cheap, stupid, dirty trap for that matter as we will discuss later. But why did you fall into it?
Don’t feel bad. You’re not alone. Typing Amen is a global business, i.e., something that all kinds of people from all kinds of places on the surface of the earth do on a daily basis. It’s beyond age, race, or gender. And millions of people globally do it. So you’re not abnormal. In fact, typing Amen on Facebook posts simply confirms that you’re normal. It’s people like us that don’t do it that are abnormal albeit, the good abnormal. But x-raying your personality can lead us to the traits that make you do it. It sounds trivial with not-so-significant consequences but inferentially, it says a lot about you and how you approach life generally. That’s why I’m talking about it.
1. Typing Amen says you’re too emotional
The posts are crafted in a way that appeals to the deepest of human emotions. Usually, a picture of a cute baby is there. Who doesn’t like a cute baby? At other times, the picture of a suffering person (especially a child is the focus). The sickness is usually an obvious one — burns or grotesque swelling. If you’re not Adolf Hitler, there’s a chance that you would be moved by the feelings of empathy inside you. Sometimes, the accompanying story is one that’s moving and touching. However the ‘hyperemotional’ people are the ones who fall for such things easily.
Some of the posts bring fear and minor threats into the equation. Some subtle blackmail also comes in. The following are examples:
“how many likes can she get?”
“this baby is cute, scroll if you’re heartless”
“ignore if you’re heartless”
“keep scrolling if you’re heartless”
“Ignore If You Have No Heart”
Sometimes, they just post gory pictures that they know will stir your emotions. Then they tell you to start typing amen to avoid fatal vehicular accidents or diseases or something. Crazy mind-bending fraud!
At other times, they’re just acting on your zeal to share things you consider beneficial to the whole world. ‘Share to say “Thank You Lord”‘. ‘Share if you’re proud to be a Muslim’. ‘Share if you believe prayer works’. ‘Share if you’re not ashamed of the gospel’. Or they write an inspirational quote and end it with ‘Share to bless others’. All these appear harmless. They’re even in line with your inmate desire to educate, inspire, or cater to the spiritual needs of your friends and family. However, underneath this seemingly noble goal is someone benefitting criminally.
2. Typing Amen says you’re not inquisitive
Before typing Amen on the picture of a sick child, how are you sure the child has not died? What if the child in the picture has actually recovered from the illness and continued her normal life 7 years ago? Did you find out? How are you sure it’s not a picture from a medical textbook? What’s the identity of the person you’re seeing in the post? Picture yourself praying for the healing of someone that has died 3 years ago! How foolish should you feel? How did the person that posted the picture come across the person in the picture?
Have you asked yourself about the motive of the person circulating this picture? Is there a way by which you will receive a feedback if the Amen you typed has worked? Will the guy circulating the post come back to inform you that the said sick person has now recovered or died? Someone tells you that $1 will be donated towards a kid’s medical treatment if you like the post and you too believe? Really? Arrggh! I can go on and on asking various questions about the whole crap. Anyway, these questions can only be asked by the inquisitive person. But for those gullible, credulous, people, who believe anything they’re told very easily, these questions don’t need to be asked. For them, typing Amen goes without reasoning. Such people stand a higher chance of falling victim to other kinds of fraud.
3. Typing Amen says you’re superstitious
This is the part I will never understand. Let’s assume that it’s real. How on earth can you think in your head that typing Amen on Facebook can make real cancer disappear? How? It’s only superstitious folks that reason like that. They’re the ones that think typing Amen will get them blessed or make a deity smile towards them. If you think your God responds to Facebook comments, then you’re a 1st century human living in the 21st century. God now acts on Facebook comments? For real?
Same thing for those who circulate prayers on whatsapp and all. Has God finished answering the prayers being said in the churches and the mosques talk less of coming to the Internet? ‘1 like = 1,000 prayers’? So why didn’t God invent Facebook all these thousands of years when he had expected people to pray to him in the mountains?
Overdependence on currying the favours of unseen powers is what makes people think that God has a Facebook account through which he counts numbers of likes and shares. Magical thinking and lack of inquisitiveness go hand in hand but there are subtle differences. If you’re gullible and naive, you will most likely be superstitious.
Now let’s look at why typing Amen on or liking or sharing nonsensical Facebook posts is bad.
Like-farming is the business of attracting huge number of likes for mischievous reasons. It means to farm likes, like you farm crops. Facebook algorithms (similar to the Google search engine) rank pages by the amount of traffic they generate — likes, shares, and comments. And the fraudsters know that these kinds of ‘type Amen’ posts go viral very easily. Thus it provides a good opportunity for them to increase their pages’ rankings. Once the ranking goes up, such pages can now be monetized by the owners. Legitimate companies run detailed checks on pages before they advertise on them. However underground and criminal outfits use these highly ranked pages as platforms to spread malicious messages and hoaxes around.
Hoax slayer succinctly explains like-farming as follows:
When they have accumulated a large number of likes – perhaps 100,000 or more – the scammers can then sell the Page to unscrupulous marketers. These marketers can then re-purpose the Page to suit their needs and use its large “like” base to blast out spam messages promoting their products or services. Selling Facebook Pages is clearly against Facebook’s Terms of Service. Nevertheless, there is a thriving underground market for established Facebook Pages and the more likes the Page has the more that it can potentially be sold for. There are even marketplace websites and forums set up specifically to buy and sell Facebook Pages. The marketplace for Pages is quite volatile and there are significant variations in listed prices. But, a Page with 100,000 Likes can sell for $1000 or more. Often, prices are calculated on a “$ per K” basis, i.e., the seller might set a base price of – for example – $2 per thousand likes.
Engaging such pages (by typing Amen or doing other things) won’t open you up to security threats as it’s sometimes alleged. Those posts are scams, not hacks. So don’t be afraid of any security threats. However by engaging with the page, you’re making it more popular and increasing its ranking. Everybody wants likes. But we all want likes for different reasons. Differentiating between those who want Internet traffic for criminal reasons and those who want it for genuine reasons can somehow be difficult but it’s never impossible.
One of such Facebook pages that are just for like-farming is this one titled ‘God Bless Nigeria’. If you visit this page, you will see what I’m talking about. Nothing concrete. Nothing sensible. The admin (the owner of the page) has 3 separate Facebook accounts with which he/she posts all manners of nonsense that gets thousands of people typing Amen like no man’s business. In fact, it’s an ‘Amen club’ of some sort. I don’t even have words to describe the empty nonsense people are typing Amen on in that place. Click here to visit the page I’m talking about.
2. Copyright issues
The pictures they spread in such posts are commonly stolen from people’s websites and social media accounts. The picture was uploaded by the genuine owner for a reason different from the one the criminals are using it for. There are stories of people stealing pictures from someone’s Instagram or Facebook account and inserting them into fraudulent posts that are then circulated online. So when you engage such pages, you’re contributing to copyright infringements.
3. Stepping on human dignity
When you spread the picture of a suffering person without their permission, you’re not only violating their privacy, you’re trampling on their rights to human dignity. Those pictures you’re typing Amen on actually belong to folks who don’t know their pictures have been spread for that purpose.
A child suffering from ichthyosis who goes by the name Brenna was similarly exploited to the chagrin of family members and caretakers. So when next you’re typing Amen on such pictures, know that you might be aiding and abetting illegality and stark immorality.
Sorry to know that you’re being used to ignoble ends. They know you’re a good-hearted person but they’re using it against you. Now that you know that your typing Amen behaviour neither helps the society nor boosts your personal image, what should you do about such Facebook posts? Firstly, don’t engage the page — don’t comment on it, don’t type any stupid Amen, don’t like the post, and don’t share it. Just scroll past. Secondly, try and contact the person and let them know that you’re aware of the fraud they’re trying to perpetrate. Thirdly, you should report such posts to Facebook.