After Nolan Daniels posted a photo of himself holding a Photoshopped winning lottery ticket, offering to give some of the riches to one person who shared the picture, more than 2 million people on Facebook bought into a hoax. While it was primarily a social experiment, Daniels wrote on The Huffington Post that he’s now trying to use this power for good.
In late November, Daniels snapped a photo of himself holding a Powerball ticket and manipulated the numbers to (kind of) look like a winning ticket. He wrote that he would give a random person who shared the photo $1 million. Within hours, hundreds of thousands of users shared the photo (currently, the share count stands at a little more than 2 million). Daniels was also bombarded with Facebook messages from people either congratulating him, or asking for money.
While many people felt that this was childish or mean-spirited, Daniels wrote that it was primarily a social experiment to see how many people would share without researching:
I quickly snapped a photo and spent 15 minutes moving the numbers to look like winning numbers. I knew that they were out of order, and that the remaining winner had a 10-pick ticket, but I also knew that would add to my curiosity of who reads the news and does their research before clicking a button.
Eighteen hours after posting, I think it was already up to 400,000 shares, and three days later, more than 2 million. Why did it spread so quickly? Looking back on it, the fact that there was no link or anything to promote made it more believable to those who may not usually fall for it. My profile was set to private except the photo, so it wasn’t like I was promoting my page. And the fact that times are tough and people will do anything to get a piece of the big money all came into play.
However, Daniels wrote that something good came out of this. One of the messages he received came from a woman whose medical expenses due to a brain disorder called Chiari (which her daughter also has) have become so burdensome that she was without a place to live. Daniels wanted to help, so he set up a fundraiser for her. So far, 65 people have raised more than $2,500.
Instead of thinking of ways to profit from a hoax or eating up media attention, I spent the weekend setting up a fundraiser for Brooke and was determined to use my short-term fame to reach out toone1 person in need and, at minimum, bring awareness for her and others with her condition. So far, 59 people have donated to Brooke in 10 days, and ASAP.org has been receiving donations, as well. Unfortunately, giving isn’t as popular as receiving, but I applaud those few who choose to do so.
Readers: Did you share the photo?