As a number of recent tragedies has highlighted, there are always people out there willing to exploit any event for their own gain.
And the recent fire that engulfed apartment block Grenfell Tower in London during the early hours of June 14th 2017 has proved no different. Hoaxers, pranksters and those simply looking to gain from the tragedy have come out in force to trick good natured social media users.
As with the Manchester bombing only weeks prior, the main method used by spammers is to create fake appeals for missing people. Spammers upload photos of people that are not related to the incident at all and falsely claim they are missing or trapped and urge other social media users to retweet the image to help locate them.
This is proving to be an effective technique that often tricks thousands of well-meaning social media users into sharing an image, making the posts go viral which in turn attracts followers to that account.
Many of these fake appeals appear to have originated in Mexico and it is the photos of well-known Mexican social media stars that are being uploaded along with the claim they are missing in the fire. One such person is Andrea Noel, a Mexican based journalist who also had her photo uploaded during the immediate aftermath of the Manchester bombing attack claiming she was amongst the missing.
It seems pranksters have taken to targeting her for their own gain (or sick enjoyment) by posting her photo along with fake appeals urging other social media users to hit share (or retweet.)
However other social media stars including YouTubers have also seen their images shared in this manner.
Other fake posts falsely claim that the fire brigade turned up hours after the blaze begain, which has now been debunked. A spokesperson has stated firefighters turned up only 6 minutes after receiving the first emergency call.
It is unfortunate that we cannot even trust appeals for help to be genuine since they can turn out to be spammers looking to exploit a tragedy for their own gain. However this is the current state of social media as we write this.