You may have already seen the facebook post I am referring to, but a recent facebook post came out claiming that a new and deadly species of spider is spreading across the country and has already killed five people this past summer. The post is posed as a form of “public service announcement,” aiming to warn and prevent people from danger. These kinds of posts are then spread in good faith by people thinking to warn friends and family. But all this is is someone deliberately scare-mongering innocent people, a source of misinformation, and could even be called trolling.
This particular viral post went viral on August 21, 2018. The post warned people about a new deadly breed of spider that was spreading across the U.S., and had already killed five people in only one week. Now, I think anyone with a brain would know that posting this would create a huge public panic, so I feel justified in calling this kind of prank an act of internet trolling. The post presented a number of close-up photos of a spider that looks rather scary to back up the claim. The post said:
NEW DEADLY SPIDER SPREADS ACROSS USA
THE SPIDER FROM HELL. FIVE PEOPLE HAVE DIED THIS WEEK DUE TO THE BITE OF THIS DEADLY SPIDER .THIS SPIDER WAS FIRST SEEN IN SOUTH CAROLINA IN JULY SINCE THEN IT HAS CAUSED DEATHS IN WEST VIRGINIA ,TENNESSEE AND MISSISSIPPI. ONE BITE FROM THIS SPIDER IS DEADLY. US GOVERNMENT WORKING ON A ANTI VENOM AT THIS TIME PLEASE MAKE YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS AWARE
However, the people that created the post obviously didn’t put enough work into it because it was not difficult for someone to figure out that the spider in the picture wasn’t a new species at all. It is actually the Dysdera crocata spider, also widely called the woodlouse spider, pill bug hunter, and a few other similar titles. This spider is hardly a new species to the United States, and it does not have lethal bites that humans need to worry about. In fact journal called their bites “virtually innocuous. The main symptom is minor pain, typically lasting less than 1 h, probably due mostly to mechanical puncture of the skin.” That doesn’t sound like something the general public needs to worry about too much.
It should also be noted that no new or old species of spider killed five people in a few southern states this past summer. The claim is just patently false and a cruel hoax on the general public.
Would you have believed this post? Would you have spread it along, thinking you were helping people?