Charles Manson has NOT been granted parole. It's an internet hoax

A "news" story has been shared widely across social networks, claiming that the notorious killer Charles Manson has been granted parole.

Here is a typical message, as shared between Facebook users:

Charles Manson internet hoax

Charles Manson Granted Parole

One of the most famous killers in the American prison system will soon be walking free. On Tuesday Charles Manson, who is now 79 years old, was granted parole by the California Board of Parole and authorized by California Governor Jerry Brown

However, you shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet.

Charles MansonIn 1969, Charles Manson and his gang were responsible for the brutal bloody "Helter Skelter" killings of a number of people including Sharon Tate, the heavily pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski. Manson has already been denied parole 12 times, and it's hard to believe that he will ever be released.

So, the message is nonsense, and the site (Empirenews.net) which has published it has tricked countless internet users into visiting the webpage, and approximately 5000 into leaving a comment on the story.

Presumably the website's intention is to make money through on-site advertising, and it doesn't care if it has to dupe people into visiting the webpages if it helps earn a few dollars.

Other recent "news stories" on the site include "School Suspends Student For Gun Shaped Birthmark", "Camden Teenager Hospitalized With Facebook Withdrawals" and "Surgeons Remove Toy From Man’s Rectum For 37th Time".

Any content on the site which bears any resemblance to the truth is likely to be entirely coincidental.

But it has become so easy these days for people to share stories and links with their friends, that it hardly matters if a story appears highly unlikely - many users will pass it on regardless if the content appears shocking or sensational enough.

If you stop and think about it, the EmpireNews.net site is making money by exploiting a horrific true life event that killed a number of people (including an unborn child) and doubtless cast a long shadow over the lives of their friends and family. If you share the link, you are helping to spread the misery that little bit further - even if 40 years have passed.

Of course, every time you reshare a dubious story you are not only helping a dubious website like EmpireNews.net earn money, but you are also fostering a climate where your friends and family find it normal to receive links to "sensational" breaking news articles from you with unlikely claims.

And, because of that, it may make them more likely to trust something your account shares online if it ever gets hijacked by scammers or malicious hackers. That's not a good way to go about things.

If you are on Facebook, and want to be kept updated with news about security and privacy risks, and tips on how to protect yourself online, join the Graham Cluley Security News Facebook page.

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3 Responses

  1. Scott Lange

    June 8, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

    Maybe your next in-depth report should be about another despicable web site simular to Empirenews.net it is called theonion.com

    • Coyote in reply to Scott Lange.

      June 9, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

      I assure you, Graham knows about The Onion. He also knows it is not a hoax website and it is not disugsting/anything of the sort (and stating otherwise would be defaming i.e., not legal, see below).
      Rather than explain it to you I'll let The Onion explain it themselves, taken from their FAQ (part of it only):

      "The Onion is a satirical weekly publication published 52 times a year on Thursdays. The Onion is published by Onion, Inc. The contents of this material are © Copyright 2010 by Onion, Inc. and may not be reprinted or re-transmitted in whole or in part without the express written consent of the publisher. The Onion is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.

      The Onion uses invented names in all its stories, except in cases where public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental."

      If anyone were to claim they were hoaxing people intentionally or scamming others, then they would be libeling or slandering (depending on how they suggest it).

  2. Coyote

    June 9, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    Re: "But it has become so easy these days for people to share stories and links with their friends, that it hardly matters if a story appears highly unlikely – many users will pass it on regardless if the content appears shocking or sensational enough."
    Beyond true. The irony is of course that Manson doesn't even go to his parole hearings and hasn't for years. He doesn't expect it and I personally do not think he wants it. After all these years, if he was to be released how would he survive? The only reason he wasn't executed was when execution was briefly abandoned (when he was pending) it (due to constitution/etc.) was removed from the list (something like: double jeopardy except in this case it is to do with death penalty or not versus innocence or not). So now he at least gets food, water, … What would he have outside of prison, besides nothing? Wake up people!

    Re: "If you stop and think about it, the EmpireNews.net site is making money by exploiting a horrific true life event that killed a number of people (including an unborn child) and doubtless cast a long shadow over the lives of their friends and family. If you share the link, you are helping to spread the misery that little bit further – even if 40 years have passed."
    Sadly people act far too quickly and think far too late. And websites like (the above mentioned one) abuse it. It's just like scammers: if they see a potential profit they'll go for it, even if 1% of the target falls for it they still make a rather large profit in the end (until they are caught – if).

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