Sometimes, it seems like every day brings a new one to the list: there are the toxic conspiracy theories, deep fakes, fake news mills, and then, there are the good ole’ fashioned internet hoaxes.
You know the ones—the sort of fear-mongering, copypasta-esque warnings that came in the form of cryptically bolded email chains a decade ago, and today dot the social media feeds of your friends and relatives.
The most recent iteration roared into the public consciousness earlier this week, after users—including upwards of a dozen celebrities and high-profile public figures—took to Instagram to share a poorly photoshopped photo of a typo-ridden creed perpetuating an old hoax.
Like the Momo challenge and most other hoaxes before it, it was nonsensical and easily debunked by a quick Google search—and, of course, quickly went viral anyway.
Make no mistake, it’s not because people are stupid, says Whitney Phillips, a professor at Syracuse University who studies misinformation and how it is amplified online.