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Facebook shutting down: The birth and death of a rumour

Zafar Anjum | Dec. 14, 2011
Facebook shutting down on 15 March 2012. Really?

The way some rumours start circulating in the veins of the online universe, especially the social media, simply makes you laugh. As soon as you come across such rumours, you begin to think: people have weird ways of making their lives interesting.

Then it gets more interesting. As soon as they start appearing, counter rumours also get unleashed. Like the viruses and the white blood cells, they have to have a fight in the body - the virtual corpus of a virtual world.

Funnily, before the day has ended, the rumours begin to die a slow death. By the time you are ready to log off, the rumour has died and been given a decent burial.

Facebook shutting down on 15 March 2012 is one such rumour.

I was having lunch at a restaurant today when I first got its whiff. One of my colleagues had put it on mass e-mail. She quoted the story from a site called Weekly World News: FACEBOOK WILL END ON MARCH 15th, 2012! The headline screamed at me. Something is dubious here, I gathered. Only the other day, I had read in The Wall Street Journal that Facebook does not need the Wall Street, and that Facebook's reported IPO next year could make Mark Zuckerberg sit at the top of a 100 billion dollar company. So, now why will he poop his own party!

And suddenly, we have this rumour of Facebook's death. It was clearly a joke. Like the one according to which the world will end in 2012. There was even a Hollywood movie on this topic. Talk about scaring the wits out of people!

Rumours gain some weight when there are counter-rumours.

By the time I had come back to office, another colleague had trawled the net and found this gem of a news, no less from a site than the CNN/Mashable: Facebook NOT shutting down March 15.

The report said: "There's a silly rumor exploding on the Internet this weekend, alleging that Facebook is shutting down on March 15 because CEO Mark Zuckerberg "wants his old life back," and desires to "put an end to all the madness."

"We have official confirmation from Facebook Director of Corporate Communications Larry Yu that the rumor is false," the report noted.

There you go. A rumour has met its nemesis.

Now, somebody will go and dig out who started this rumour and how it all went viral over the Internet. But, do you really care? I don't.

Moral of the story: In our hyper-connected world, rumours don't have much shelf-life, and thank God for that. And of course, no matter how much you hate it, Facebook is not shutting down.

Zafar Anjum is the online editor of MIS Asia, CIO Asia, Computerworld Singapore and Computerworld Malaysia.



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