People continue to fall for viral hoaxes due to several reasons:

  1. Emotional Appeal: Hoaxes often tap into people's emotions, such as fear, curiosity, or sympathy. This emotional manipulation can cloud judgment and make individuals more susceptible to believing and sharing false information.

  2. Confirmation Bias: People tend to seek out information that confirms their existing beliefs or biases. Viral hoaxes that align with these beliefs can be readily accepted without critical examination.

  3. Lack of Critical Thinking: In an era of rapid information sharing, many individuals may not take the time to critically evaluate the credibility of the sources or the validity of the information before sharing it.

  4. Social Validation: Sharing viral content can provide a sense of social validation or belonging, especially if the content aligns with popular narratives or opinions within one's social circle.

  5. Misinformation Spread: The speed and reach of social media platforms can amplify the spread of hoaxes. Once a hoax gains traction, it can quickly snowball as more people share it without verifying its accuracy.

  6. Desire for Sensationalism: Viral hoaxes often contain sensational or shocking elements that grab attention. This can lead people to share the content without considering its veracity.

  7. Lack of Digital Literacy: Some individuals may have limited knowledge or skills in discerning reliable information from misinformation online. This lack of digital literacy makes them more vulnerable to falling for hoaxes.

To combat the spread of viral hoaxes, critical thinking skills, fact-checking, and promoting digital literacy are crucial.

The internet is rife with unreliable sources of information, from toxic conspiracy theories and deepfakes to fake news mills. Among these are the classic internet hoaxes, reminiscent of fear-inducing, copy-paste messages from a decade ago that now populate social media feeds.

Compared to the sophisticated disinformation campaigns that dominate today's headlines, social media hoaxes may seem less concerning. We used to fall for all-caps chain texts warning of curses if we didn't forward them to friends, which now appear almost nostalgic.

However, the persistence of these hoaxes despite advancements in digital literacy highlights their ongoing impact and the need for continued vigilance against misinformation.