The power of deception that exists on the internet was witnessed by some 80,000 Facebook users in Sweden last week as a support group for heart research suddenly became one that argued for abolishing women’s right to vote.
Originally, the group had promised that for every member that joined it would donate SEK 3 to heart research organisations. The benevolent would-be charity grew rapidly and membership claimed quickly into the tens of thousands. When 80,000 members had joined, the group then changed its declared ambition from research support to striving to strip women of the right to vote.
A range of new posts appeared arguing against women’s suffrage and the homepage stated that its membership: “don’t think that women should be allowed to have the right to vote”.
The move was revealed as a ruse by the 20-year-old page founder in an effort to encourage people not to believe everything they read. “The point was to be provocative. We want to show that people shouldn’t always be so trusting of the things they join,” said the founder, as reported in the Local.
Reaction has been mixed to the stunt with some users feeling duped by the move while others have found amusement in the incident. “There’s also humour in it. I wanted people to realize they shouldn’t believe everything they read, and they should check how truthful something is before signing up or joining a group,” explained the young media star, adding that his expectations had been far surpassed.
“We got many more members than we had expected and many reacted in the way we wanted,” said the founder. He also was very clear in making it known that he himself does not believe in denying women the right to vote.