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20 Mar 2012 - Article No: 1522

Michael Burdis Dog Fighting Rumour - Internet/Facebook Rumour

Filed under: General | Internet/Facebook Rumour

This is Michael Anthony Burdis - watch out for him in all rescue centres as he`s trying to get his hands on a dog to use as bait in dog fighting! Please share this far and wide - we have to stop this evil man!

This message warning of a man called Michael Burdis accompanied by a photo we have blurred is circulating the Internet claiming the man is looking for dogs for illegal dog fighting.

The message seems to have originated from the Scruples Whippet Rescue Facebook page, who according to a Facebook post made on March 13th 2012 that reads in part -

"Michael Burdis is NOT in any way a Volunteer for Scruples or in any way associated with our Rescue. He wrote on our Facebook page last week enquiring about young dogs and was REFUSED a dog and was BLOCKED from our page due to his dog fighting links. This man is currently under investigation by the RSPCA .
All our Volunteers are very strictly vetted and home checked and Scruples Whippet Rescue will not have, and never have had anything to do with anyone involved in the barbaric illegal activity that is dog fighting."

Whilst Scruples Whippet Resuce have confirmed that someone of that name did enquire about a dog, it has not been confirmed that the enquiry was related to illegal dog fighting OR that the man in the photo accompanying the message is the man in question. Scruples did not release a photo or account of the person in question.

It is generally not recommended for social networkers to circulate such messages, as it is potentially dangerous for people who share that name and even more dangerous for the person in the photo, regardless of the message`s accuracy and authenticity. Messages like this encourage social networkers to pass on potentially damaging messages without checking the facts first, which is highly irresponsible - as highlighted by the case of Thierry Mairot where hundreds of thosands of Facebook users passed around false rumours claiming Mr. Mairot was a sexual predator, something that was very damaging to people who shared that name.
Passing around irresponsible and potentially inaccurate messages like the one above will inevitably create online lynch mobs and possibly cause wrongful "vigilante justice" on individuals who share the name quoted in the message.

If you would like to help, make sure your local dog rescue centres in the UK are aware of the name. However circulating unverified and potentially inaccurate information will inevitably only cause problems.

Read this blog post on the dangers of passing on unverified information like this.

The Internet, and social networking sites like Facebook, are perfect platforms for spreading untruths, misinformation, rumor and propaganda. Thousands of inaccurate, exaggerated, deceptive or just plain false messages are circulated every single day.

For the anti-scam community to successfully tackle this plethora of false rumours, it is important that anyone who uses the Internet be able to identify false rumours and fully understands the possible consequences of spreading false information.

We have a two part blog post that helps provide this information. Part 1 deals with how to spot and debunk Internet rumours and Part 2 deals with the reasons why you should never circulate false information.

Additionally if you have fallen for this rumour or have Facebook friends that have, you can join our growing Facebook page here.

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