What’s Viral on Internet:
A guy sends you a friend request. You don’t know him, but he’s got a cute profile pic, so you accept.
It’s baby girl’s first day of school! She looks SO cute in her new outfit you just have to take a picture and put it on Facebook so all your friends and family can see. You’re so excited dropping her off that you “check in” to her school on Fb saying “I can’t believe how big she’s gotten. Time sure flies. One proud momma/daddy right here!”…
Meanwhile, the mystery guy whose friend request you hurriedly accepted earlier this morning is saving that picture you posted of your daughter in her cute new outfit to his phone and texting it to 60 other grown men across the world with the caption “Caucasian female. Age 5. Brown hair, green eyes. $2,500.” Not only did you provide a picture of your little girl to a child trafficker, you’ve handed him the name and exact location of her school on a silver cyber platter.
You go to pick her up at 3:00 this afternoon, but she’s nowhere to be found. Little do you know, your precious baby girl was sold to a 43-year-old pedophile before you even stepped foot off campus this morning, and now she’s on her way to South Africa with a bag over her head, confused, terrified and crying because a man she’s never seen before picked her up from school, and now she doesn’t know where her parents are, where she’s going, or what’s gonna happen to her.
STOP ADDING STRANGERS ON FACEBOOK.
In September 2014, the post above (without original attribution) went viral on Facebook. While this iteration is a new one, panic over internet strangers is as old as the internet itself, and warnings such as this have largely morphed from email forwards to Facebook shares.
In May and June of 2015, the story received a second wave of interest after it was published to the website StylishLisa on 27 May 2015. On 30 May 2015 the message appeared on the Facebook page Lil’ Red Warriors, but was later deleted after Facebook commenters correctly identified the photograph’s origin on a page about children’s hairstyles. The photo and its claim were later published verbatim to the Facebook page of Cyn Malvita, from where it was shared hundreds of thousands of times. A cached version of the iteration involving the hairstyling picture is embedded below:
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