Fraud Thrives in Movements of Great Social Change.

Every spring and sadly without fail, poison baits are discovered in Wisconsin’s north woods. Unfortunately these poisonous baits are discovered by unsuspecting pet dogs, hunter’s dogs, birds of prey, wolves just to name a few of the victims. They die a very painful death after ingesting poison baits. USF&WS and Wisconsin Conservation Wardens are on the case investigating and have offered a reward for information leading to the arrest of person/persons committing these atrocities against wildlife.

There’s the deer hunter that poaches, leaving the body hanging in the woods. Then there’s the “SSS” story that’s been around for decades. Shoot, shovel and shut up “SSS”. I’ve heard these stories for decades in my volunteer work as a wolf tracker. They first surfaced back in the early stages of the Wisconsin Wolf Recovery Program. The story has changed over the years but it still represents a deep seated hatred of a wild predator.

At the same time, There’s so many misinformation campaigns throughout Facebook. In 2011 as gray wolves were about to be delisted a number of individuals arrived on the scene, out of nowhere, with no previous experience, or any credibility. These individuals quickly put up Facebook pages, even forming non profit organizations. Then, they began distributing misinformation on a large scale like never before. So many caring individuals were duped by these individuals.

“Fraud really thrives in moments of great social change and transition. We’re in the midst of a technological revolution. That gives con artists huge opportunities. People lose their frame of reference for what can and can’t be real.”

Maria Konnikova

I look for wolf photography that will draw my readers into the content for educational purposes.

As an example of widespread misinformation, how many of you saw the Facebook posts about the largest wolf pack? It was widely disputed by Politifact not by Facebook, and not by the general wolf advocacy network. Facebook posts went viral about a large wolf pack and totally full of misinformation about the animals’ behavior.

An old, miscaptioned photo about wild wolves and their behavior continues to resurface on social media. The image, shared in a Facebook post, shows a pack of wolves trudging single file through the snow. The photo itself is real –– it’s from the BBC’s Frozen Planet series –– but the caption that is attached to it is problematic:

“The 3 wolves in the front are either old or sick. They walk in front to lead the way so as to set the pace. The 5 wolves behind them are the strongest. They protect the front in case of an attack. The middle group consists of newborns, pregnant females, and young wolves. They are fully protected from front as well as from back. The 5 wolves, behind the middle group are also among the strongest, they protect the back side. The last and the lone wolf in the back is the leader. He ensures no one is left behind. He keeps the pack tight and cohesive. Also in case of an ambush he remains active to run in any direction to protect his pack.” Mis-captioned that was widely shared on Facebook.

This photo was distributed widely throughout Facebook by unsuspecting wolf advocates and was recently fact-checked by Politifact

I recall seeing this post and even alerting it as misinformation for at least four years before it was disputed.

Let’s get back to the misinformation widely distributed throughout Facebook. This is because it’s a Facebook network, and they are not fact checking these pages. Most certainly these Facebook pages are not organizations in a real sense. That’s because anyone can create a Facebook page and call it anything they want. To date there are over 20,000 Facebook pages about wolves. Which in itself does prove one thing; how much wolves are loved! But what happens when these pages use tragic photographs for monitory gain?

On Facebook a bloody photograph of dead animals gets thousands of likes and shares because it triggers deep emotions.

Over the last six years there has been several unscrupulous controversy’s brewing from within the Facebook network. There aren’t any mechanism in place to hold these groups accountable. To demonstrate this in September of 2018 a firestorm hit as several National news outlets alerted the general public to how the animal rights community was dealing with predatory behavior towards its members from a well known activist now working out of Wisconsin.

Starting in 2011 there has been an escalating supply of moral meltdowns in one nonprofit. With very little accountability it’s become a safe place for these individuals to hide out and misrepresent their credentials. But remember folks that it’s only Facebook, only social media and not the real world. So what’s the solution in all of this?

Certainly do not believe everything you read on Facebook. When in doubt google it! Don’t be afraid of the person behind the curtain or in other words, behind the computer screen. Ask who they are, and if they badger or belittle you, then there you have it! A person who has something to hide will be on the defense and will come out swinging at you for asking questions. You’ll more than likely get called names and be blocked. Remember that a Facebook post of a bloody photograph of dead animals gets thousands of likes and shares because it triggers deep emotions. Be aware that these posts could be put out there by deeply disturbed individuals that want your attention and your donations.

I’ve posted this photograph to bring education and awareness to how politicians are using misinformation to the public so they can delist the Gray wolf in order to hold a wolf hunt. Politicians want to please their constituents and hold a wolf hunt.

The flip side of social media can be deeply disturbing, please remember you’re not alone, and falling for these tricks does not make you stupid. Do not be afraid to confront the con artist, confronting the person behind the curtain is a wise thing to do. Facebook isn’t real life. It’s easy for deeply disturbed individuals to hide behind a Facebook post.

About the deeply disturbed individuals laying out poison baits: USFWS and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Conservation Wardens are on the case. Don’t fall for amateur sleuths claiming to investigate and offer rewards. After all, do these amateurs have credentials? Even a college degree? Do they even have employment? They wanna-be conservation wardens? In fact many of these Facebook pages claiming to be advocating for wolves and soliciting for donations do not have jobs.

What makes you a good person also makes you a target for con artists. Today’s online scams are effective because they focus on taking advantage of your good nature and trust-worthy traits to trick you into falling for scams. Cybercriminals have turned their focus from vulnerable technology to vulnerable humans. According to Mark Nunnikhoven, Trend Micro, a cybersecurity firm, “scams play on human nature to advance a criminal’s goal.” Source

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