Category: Misinformation

Apple NameDrop

apple namedrop

If you use Apple devices, there’s a new feature in the latest OS updates called NameDrop. This function allows you to quickly and easily share contact info with other Apple device users. Simply place the two devices near each other, and NameDrop will appear! Each device user will get a pop-up, asking if they want to exchange contact cards.

I want to emphasize: NameDrop always asks permission to exchange any info. I’ve got a bit of rumor control to do here, as people across the internet have noticed this new iOS addition and are reacting poorly. Misinformation and fearmongering is afoot.

If you see any posts, urging you to turn off NameDrop, take a breath and Don’t Panic. Please understand that NameDrop only works under strict conditions:

  • Two devices have to be very close to each other (almost touching)
  • The Apple devices are powered on and unlocked
  • Each user taps Share to authorize their data to transmit

Apple NameDrop is safe and well-implemented. I don’t see any real risk here. You are still welcome to disable the feature under Settings -> General -> AirDrop -> Bringing Devices Together. Just don’t buy into the viral hysteria; there’s no major safety loophole or hazard here.

The Facebook Highlight Tag

I need to explain to you about the Facebook Highlight Tag. It’s being used right now in a viral post, and you don’t need to be a part of it.

Numerous posts right now are urging people to use the @Highlight tag in the comments or on their own posts, to find out who is watching their Facebook profile. But this is not true.

The Facebook Highlight Tag

For anyone who follows these instructions, they will invoke the @Highlight tag, and that simply sends a notification to some or all of your FB friends. The notification pops up on each of their computers/devices, and leads them to wherever you placed that tag.

It’s a needless annoyance and accomplishes nothing. You should only use the Facebook Highlight Tag on something important, something you think all of your Facebook friends should be drawn to see and read. They don’t need to see your comment on someone else’s silly post. If you see this sort of thing on Facebook, just ignore it.

The Facebook Highlight Tag

Manipulated Amazon Reviews

Amazon would have you believe that their reviews are authentic and reliable. But I want you to know they are far from perfect. Besides Brushing Scams, some Amazon sellers game the system by paying for positive reviews. And it works. Here’s how Amazon reviews are manipulated, with offers of Amazon Gift Cards.

When a buyer receives their purchase, a business card (see above) may be included. Or a postcard (examples below) may arrive in the mail after a few weeks. The card gives detailed instructions on how to leave a review, and email proof to the seller, in order to receive an Amazon gift card.

Note that, while the cards sport the Amazon logo, the verbiage specifically says not to mention this card or return it to Amazon. That should be a tip-off that they are doing something illicit.

My Experience

I’ve received many of these over the years, and became intrigued. I was curious if there was a scam or a danger, or what Amazon might do about this scheme, if anything. So when I received a fresh “offer” card with my order, I went through with it. I followed the instructions exactly, and quickly received an email of the promised Amazon Gift Card.

I was still dubious, but I clicked through on the gift card link and redeemed the code. It was real. The promised amount had been added to my Amazon balance. Case closed, right?

But I am no schill and this was not about the money. I wanted to prove the process, and I had done so. Next, I chatted with Amazon Support and divulged everything. I provided every last detail about what I’d done, and asked them to take back the gift card amount, as I hadn’t come by it honestly. With everything documented and saved in PDFs and JPGs, my finger was poised over an email send button, and all I needed to know was the correct address at Amazon to send it to.

Amazon didn’t care. Their support told me that wasn’t necessary, and that I could keep the gift card money. I spluttered (if you can do such in a chat window) that surely they wanted some kind of details, so that they could stop or discourage this sort of thing. And I also asked: “What should I do about the review I left? Should I remove it, or leave there for Amazon to track?”

Again, they were noncommittal. They thanked me for my honesty and said they would log the details and asked if there was anything else they could do for me. I insisted that they give me an email address to send my message to. They grudgingly provided one.

I let them go from the chat, and sent my message. And I later got a bounce message in response. My email did not get through, as they’d given me a non-working address. Sigh.

That was a year ago. In 2024, I went through this process again, and chatted Amazon support about a postcard I’d received, offering to pay me $30 for a review! This time around, they seemed a little more interested. Amazon gave me an upload link, so I could give them a photo of the card.

But I’m still not confident of their handling of the situation. They didn’t want my order number. I was told to just delete the email, and I had to clarify: “You mean postcard? To throw it away?” And they emphatically stated that only Amazon can give out such gift cards. I had to disagree with them, and tell them that I’ve gotten payment in this manner, from other sellers. Amazon promised me that they “would do the needful” and thanked me for reaching out.

So What’s Your Point?

Good point. After all those words, there seems to be no personal risk or harm to all of this. I haven’t even seen any extra spam, from sharing my email with seller-strangers. Amazon did not punish me. It’s all just a wrinkle in the huge canvas of Amazon commerce, right?

The point to all of this is to emphasize that Amazon Reviews are not reliable. I still think you should shop with Amazon, if that seems best for you. But take some skepticism with you. If product reviews are important to your buying decisions, check reviews from multiple sources. Research your product at Walmart, Target, Costco, wherever else you might buy that item. Consider Consumer Reports or other big-name review authorities.

Because the methods being used to earn great Amazon reviews can defeat even the best detection tools.

Facebook Copypasta

If you see this stuff on Facebook, don’t pay it any mind. And don’t copy and paste it to your feed or anywhere else. It’s just junk, it’s Facebook copypasta, and you don’t need to be part of this paperless chain letter.

You can read more about this rubbish on Snopes. This one has been making the rounds for several years…

facebook copypasta

Have you seen something else on Facebook, where it asks/urges/demands that you copy and paste it into a new post? Don’t do it. The push for you to copy and paste on Facebook should be a red flag that something is not right.

If you choose to copy and paste something, that could be different. Perhaps you want to spread some info, but make some changes first. Maybe you want to remove a name for privacy’s sake, or edit the grammar and spelling to clean it up a bit. That’s legitimate, and you decided to do it.

But when another poster is pushing people to copy and paste, there are different reasons for that, and they are not good.

  • Facebook intends for people to spread posts using the Share function. This creates a trail, so that you can see where a post came from, leading from one Share to another. This also means that if the original Shared post is removed for any reason, the entire Share-hierarchy disappears.
    But with copypasta, every post is independent. If the original is removed, no other posts are affected. This means that a misinformation copypasta is going to be far more difficult to eradicate or correct. And it may also lead to misinformation growth, as the post may be changed and added onto with each successive copy.
  • Copypasta defeats privacy boundaries on Facebook. A post in a Facebook group cannot be shared beyond that group. Another post that was set to “Friends Only” cannot be seen by the Public, even if Shared. But copying and pasting defeats all of that, because the new post is, again, independent.
  • The originator may never be found. Facebook and other people can track a Shared post back many levels, and find the source. But after someone starts a copypasta chain letter, they may decide to delete their post that started it all, and exit stage right. Maybe they want to avoid the consequences of their actions? Like Facebook Jail?

In short: Don’t copy and paste on Facebook, unless you decide that it is prudent. Using the Share function is more sensible. But even that doesn’t prevent misinformation or harm. Think twice and check facts before passing anything on.

Don’t Post That Privacy Notice to Facebook

For ten years now, people have been posting the following notice on Facebook:

Please don’t do that. Don’t post this or Share this if you see it. It is a hoax and it is misinformation. It accomplishes nothing.

I understand if you have privacy concerns over Facebook’s treatment of your information. Mr. Zuckerberg doesn’t have a great track record of protecting and respecting our user data. But this kind of post does not protect you or change how Facebook treats you.

Please read up about this on Snopes or other websites. When you first signed up for a free Facebook account, you agreed to a lengthy contract. You agreed to so many many things, including:

Specifically, when you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights on or in connection with our Products, you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings). This means, for example, that if you share a photo on Facebook, you give us permission to store, copy, and share it with others (again, consistent with your settings) such as service providers that support our service or other Meta Products you use. This license will end when your content is deleted from our systems.

Facebook Terms of Service

If you really want control over what Facebook does with your data, your options are few and simple enough:

  • Don’t post it in the first place.
  • Delete your info, posts or pictures from Facebook.
  • Delete your whole Facebook account!

I understand that those may not be the most helpful options, and for that, I can only apologize and sympathize. Remember: If you’re using something for free, you are probably not the customer, you are the product!

The National Baby Formula Shortage

Some info pertaining to the shortage of baby formula in the USA:

Scams abound! If you find an online vendor for baby formula that seems too good to be true, it may be. When possible, buy your formula from respected, large companies and not sketchy eBay auctions or brand-new websites.

Misinformation about buying from Amazon’s Canada website is circulating, and I want to debunk that before you try it. For the most part, you cannot buy baby formula from, unless it is from one of their 3rd-party sellers. And those may be risky to use.

Another important resource right now is the Free Formula Exchange. If you have formula that you don’t need, please donate it through this website! And if you need formula, you can sign up and possibly connect with someone nearby who has unneeded baby formula.

And you should touch base with your pediatrician for other trusted resources that can help you get through this tough time.

Defending Against Misinformation

You can call it misinformation, false news, alternative facts or misleading journalism. The internet is plagued with ubiquitous lies & fraudulent stories, promoted by real people and bot accounts, alike. It’s awful out there, folks.

And it’s not just the news. Forwarded emails of photos and videos dupe people into believing inaccurate science. Ads and posts convince people into strange & unnecessary behaviors through clickbait manipulation. On the internet, you are constantly targeted with junk info.

Protect your brain. Defend against the garbage that laps up against the shores of your consciousness. Here are some tools and tactics:

Fact-checking Websites

There are many websites devoted to revealing false news and fraudulent info. Search any of these to see if they can validate or refute any subject:



Factcheck by AFP


Hoax Slayer shut down its website earlier this year, but still debunks on Twitter.

Check out Wikipedia for other fact-checking recommendations, too.

Reverse Image Search

If you’re looking at an unbelievable picture, you can search for it on the internet. When you find it on other websites, it may become apparent that it is either true or altered/fake.

To perform a “reverse image search”, many use Google Image Search. Click the camera icon at the end of the search field, and Google will allow you to upload any picture file, or paste in a weblink to any photo. The search results should help you learn more about the origins of your dubious picture.

Another great site that works similarly is . And it looks like Bing offers an image search function, if you click the curious camera-like icon at the end of the search field.

There aren’t a lot of good options for reverse video searches. While some tools exist, they are more for creators who are looking for plagiarism. And they often cost money to use. If you’re looking to check a video for legitimacy, you can take a screenshot and upload that one frame to a reverse image search site. You might also simply visit YouTube and type in a search that describes the video you want to check.

Learn More about Misinformation

There are many institutions out there that discuss this societal problem, and have advice for you. Consider reading up on misinformation and how to guard against it:

ASU: Seven Ways to Protect Yourself Against Misinformation Misinformation and Disinformation: A Guide for Protecting Yourself

The Verge: How to Fight Lies, Tricks and Chaos Online

Brookings: How to Combat Fake News and Disinformation

And you may also want to peruse the fact-checking websites listed at the top of this post, even when you don’t need to debunk something. Casual reading of those types of sites may teach you the hallmarks of false info and train you to be more judgmental about what you read.

Trend Micro Check

The Trend Micro company has come out with a new tool that I want to recommend. Trend Micro Check is a free browser extension that you can install in Google Chrome (or Microsoft Edge) that will protect you as you surf the web.

Specifically, Trend Micro Check blocks ads and trackers (like AdBlockPlus), warns you when you visit scam or misinformation websites (like Bitdefender Trafficlight) and also goes through your surfing history for baddies. If it finds anything worrisome in your browser history, it will report it to you and then offer to remove it.

You can install the extension from the Get Now button on this page, or try this direct link to it in the Google Play Store.

You Cannot Circumvent Facebook’s Algorithms

At least, not with some copy-and-paste wodge of text. So if you see this kind of post, don’t bother with it:

You Cannot Circumvent Facebook's Algorithms

It is not harmful to post this sort of thing. And you may truly see more posts from long-lost FB Friends afterwards. But that’s because Facebook shows you more of the people you interact with. It’s not a circumvention or hack. It’s just how Facebook behaves, for all posts on all feeds.

You’ll see the same churn in your FB feed after a post where you simply ask people to leave a comment. So don’t pass on this classic Facebook chain letter. If you want to hear from old friends, you can reach out to them without participating in someone’s superstitious hokum.

PS: the only thing I’ve seen that comes close to adjusting Facebook’s main algorithm is a browser extension called FB Purity.

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