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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The viral video (2)

If you believed the video in yesterday's posting, you were fooled with some camera trickery and a 2008 marketing ploy by Cardo Systems, in an effort to promote its headsets.

The idea of this sort of scheme is to create viral intensity and mystery, and then track back to your product or service.  Of course the question is, does it actually help you sell more stuff?

That is more debatable, but if the activity is in good fun and no harm is done, then of course you gain the secondary benefits of attention and "free advertising".

In my case, a colleague living in Hong Kong who worked with me three decades ago on the Bulawayo Chronicle (Rhodesia turning to Zimbabwe) sent this video to me, before following one of the most crucial journalistic rules:  "Don't believe anything that is too strange to be true -- unless you wish to be caught by an urban legend?"

I learned about urban legends early in my career when I started investigating what would have been a truly huge story if true.   After a few brick walls, a kind soul told me about urban legends. I learned then the  basics of cautious skepticism.  Just as urban legends an spread like wildfire on the Internet, you can usually debunk them equally quickly with a quick Google search.

So, no, ringing cellphones can't actually pop popcorn and, while there are possibly some risks from cellphone radiation, you don't need to worry about frying your brains out this way.  Better strategy:  Head to a movie theatre and eat some of that fattening, utterly unhealthy stuff -- and enjoy the show.
One of several articles describing this hoax is here.

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