I never dreamed the day would come when civilization would get this naive, to the point where I have to share the big secret of how people lie on the Internet to get attention, but I guess that film 2006 Idiocracy wasn't made for nothing...
OK, case in point is this thread: "I was clinically dead for 2 minutes after a heart-attack (28/f), and death was the most peaceful feeling of my life. AMA." Posted 9/17/12, today as I type. I'll try to preserve what I can since fakes just tend to delete everything and pull the same stunt two weeks later under a different name.
(EDIT And it's gone already minutes later, so my post is now the only record.)
Note that the poster's story is that they had pneumonia which (heart attack?) caused them to pass out and require resuscitation.
The poster puts up several photos to back their claim:
Now, we go to google.com and click on the image tab...
Once you're in the image search tab, click on the little gray camera icon in the search box...
Now you have a new search box open. Find one of those images, get the URL (so it's showing just the image in your browser - the URL, in the address bar, has to be showing the image file name extension - jpg, png, gif, whatever - at the very end), and paste it into the search box...
Google will find every other page on the web in its index with the same, or similar, images. Note that in this specific case, it even finds another matching photo from the same case, killing two birds with one stone. We find the exact same images on this blog from November of 2011. Note that this gal has Multiple Sclerosis, and reports the occasion where her heart stopped and was brought back in a very similar story. She even reports that the hospital PA system said "Rapid response to 3 North rehab! Rapid response to 3 North rehab!" while our faker says the hospital PA says "rapid response to 4 North, rapid response to 4 North." A clear case of plagiarism as well, just editing the text slightly because, duh, everybody knows that Google can find text...
That's the end of Google image search's helpfulness, as it couldn't find matches for the other two photos. #4 isn't hard to fake, since it's just a shot of a common form which I tracked down to here. Since there's no handwritten marks on the form indicating whom it belongs to, this could be anybody's photo from any where.
Now, photos #2 presents us with a poser. Google image search comes up dry on the alleged photo of the person's face, but does not look like the same person with MS shown in the original blog post from November 2011. A Caucasian female with red hair, to be sure, but otherwise no match. And yet wearing the same shirt!
Note that the nails are painted in photo #2 but unpainted in photo #1.
What's going on here? We have two different sets of photos from two different time periods. This post, dated from September of 2012, shows more the same gal from our photo #2. The discrepancy in her facial features is explained by "moon face", where steroid therapy makes your face fill out (yes, steroids are used for more than just male bodybuilding). And a year's time is enough to re-do your nails and get a new hairdo.
But here's the trump card: The owner of that blog also has a Reddit account, and also posted an AMA just 25 days previously under her own account name of "Gimme_Danger". Here is her submission history, and she links to her own blog here.
Note that this girl is confined to a wheelchair and the faker account, red__head, posts comments about things like working at a strip club (with motorcycles lowered from the ceiling???).
We'll call this one solved for now.
Why do people DO this???
Money! High-karma accounts are worth money on the social media asstroturf circuit. See my three posts about the underground big-business of social media asstroturfing here, here, and here. Note that red__head's account at Reddit, at the time of my writing, is just two days old. Do you know a quicker way of growing a lot of karma in a short time? Never mind the "self-posts don't give you karma" dodge, comment karma always counts and it's obvious from looking at scores that successful self-posts do give you some karma.
The rest of the karma comes from this post, also by red__head, claiming to have adopted a kitten. Here's the same photo at OMGCuteThings (retch!) with one small detail: the logo in the bottom right has been edited out! It's a simple trick, I use Gimp's resynthesizer plugin myself.
An account like this is most likely hacked into existence over a few days then sold on one of those sites that does "social media marketing." They're most likely done in batches. What matter if this one gets deleted? What matter if a moderator catches one account and bans it? It's like pulling up a dandelion.
WHY does this keep happening?
Dear reader, I hate to sound harsh, but this is your fault.
It is your fault for being gullible and taking everything on the Internet at face value. Those few of us who do this kind of legwork could not possibly keep up. I have spent years on this site alerting people to scams, shams, fakes, lies, swindles, and cons, from the corporate CEO level down to rank flim-flammers like this, and all of you just shrug and go "Duh, whatever LOL!"
Clearly, you don't care.
Clearly, you couldn't care less if these hospital photos were exploited by a fraud who asked for donations - this happens all the time as well. Millions of dollars trade hands over the Internet every day, spurred by people posting asking for donations, and no fact-checking happens. Clearly, I could be rolling in money using these same tricks to scam all of you. I am, after all, a professional writer. I could concoct a load of bull and put up a kickstarter can or a PayPal link like anybody else. All of you are so uncaring that you're probably now asking "Well then why don't you? I'd donate to you even if I knew you were faking!"
Apparently that's the world we live in today. Everybody but me does this just because nobody but me has any idea that doing this is wrong anymore.
Yet, you're here now, aren't you?
Don't waste time on my site, readers! Go back to your RSS feed and your social networks and spot the nearest fake to you RIGHT NOW! Investigate, hunt for clues, question everything, find them out, and post the evidence for all to see!