Nailing down a rumor: Tacks in cheese

5 Oct

As wonderful a tool as social media is for defending, locating, rehoming, advocating for and generally protecting man’s best friend, there are times when its power gets embarrasingly out of control.

The “nails in cheese” story is a case in point — one that proves yet again that, when stories go viral, not even a dose of truth can slow them down.

“New trend at dog parks, nails in pieces of cheese, if you take your dogs to dog parks, please be careful!!” Eric “Pack Ethic” Bellows, one of many overspreading the news, reports on his Facebook page.

It’s not a “new” trend, or even a trend at all — at least it wasn’t before the photo started getting “shared” all over the Internet.

It apparently was one incident, three months ago, at a dog park in South America.

True, it was a heinous act, and should be reported, but calling it a trend, blowing it out of proportion, making it sound like it’s happening next door, is irresponsible. And scarier yet, once that starts happening, it’s often irreversible — almost out of control.

In addition to planting evil seeds in twisted minds, the photo is unnecessarily alarming thousands of dog lovers, who, always willing to speak out from the heart about mistreated dogs, sometimes don’t check the facts first.

Bellow’s Sunday Facebook post on spiked cheese — the photo and a brief and vague description – had drawn nearly 2,500 comments by Monday, and been shared by nearly 3,900 people. By this morning, there were 9,000 comments and 12,000 shares.

Most of the comments, as you can imagine, address how reprehensible the act was, and what should be done with the perpetrator, once caught.

A few ask when and where it happened — information not included in Bellow’s post.

Of course Bellows, who runs a rescue organization out of his home, is not the only one inflating the story to mythical proportions.

Through through social networking sites like Tumblr and Facebook, the nails and cheese story is spreading like wildfire, according to ThatsNonsense.com.

The website reports the single incident – a dog walker found the spiked treats in in Centennial Park, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires — was reported locally and then picked up by Perfil.com.

“After research on the Internet, we were unable to find any other stories … thus making it unlikely that this is a “trend” — rather an apparently isolated incident many months ago.

ThatsNonsense.com concludes:

“Whilst it is difficult to ascertain for definite whether this has ever happened anywhere else before, we have to acknowledge we live in a big world full of sick, twisted people so the likelihood that some future events linked to the message above happening again is certainly possible, if not likely – however this appears to be nothing more than a relatively isolated incident – there is no trend or serial “cheese spiking” occurring, and circulating this message is most likely going to be a total waste of time rather than helpful.”

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