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This article was published on August 31, 2011

The new social network chain mail: Are you being scammed?

The new social network chain mail: Are you being scammed?

The world of Internet media and press is tricky business. What some of us might believe to be valid news or worthy of a post is sometimes revealed to be a scam (or at least a cleverly disguised marketing strategy that we were previously unaware of). It sure fooled us.

It’s all a hoax!

Earlier today we mentioned how a man “earned” £11,000 in a bet against his boss after betting that Twitter is a useful marketing device. Shortly after this piece went live, we received several tips from our readers claiming to have seen this same “marketing tactic” on plenty of other social networks. Apparently, this man who may have won the bet in this hoax might not even have a boss to win money from!

In one example, reader, Jay Sales claims to have seen this same strategy used on Google+, while Eugene Smiley doubts the validity of the social “chain mail” and points out seeing the same approach via LinkedIn. In another version of the same hoax, Dutch company Eef en Huub published a similar tweet.

The Google+ version:

LinkedIn chain mail:

Another Twitter reiteration:

Scam or not, the massive and quick reaction to these types of posts are impressive. While we hate to ruin what is potentially an easy and free way to score quickly amplified marketing, it’s definitely worth it to keep our readers abreast on the latest in social media marketing trends.

We encourage you to be skeptical.

Not everyone is an investigative journalist poised and ready to disprove information, and it’s easy to see why this type of content would spread so quickly. It’s human nature to often root for the underdog in any situation (as you may have seen in a recent Gizmodo post where many readers reacted angrily to Magic: The Gathering Champion, Jon Finkel’s name being smeared in an article).

Fortunately, our readers were one a step ahead of us and quick to point out just how “valid” that bet really was. That said, what other types of social network chain mail have you seen or perhaps fallen victim to, and will you be trying a similar tactic? Weigh in below.