By Emily StaceyThe Christmas card that you receive in your mail from your favourite mall can be a fake, if the cards’ makers have their way.
A new study by University of Queensland researchers suggests that fake Christmas cards are the most popular way to buy a fake holiday gift from the mall, followed by Instagram pictures.
Key points:Study says 80 per cent of people have sent fake holiday cards to the mallThe study analysed 1,700 Facebook messages and found that more than half of those people were from the eastland regionThe study used data from Facebook from January 1 to March 31, 2018, and used the same methodology to analyse the Instagram photos.
“In some cases, it may appear that the person sending the fake message has the intention of buying the gift but it’s really more of a promotional ploy,” study co-author, Professor David Bowers, said.
“People often try to get people to send them Christmas cards that have an Easter theme, or a special occasion, but in reality the people are just trying to look cool.”
The study’s co-authors said the findings showed how easily people could spoof messages.
“This study shows how easy it is to create fake Christmas gift cards using Facebook messages, Instagram photos, and other social media,” Professor Bowers said.
“There’s a lot of potential for fake Christmas gifts that are sent in this way.”
We have a very high number of fake holiday card requests from people in the east, particularly from people from the west of the state.
“In the study, researchers analysed 1.7 million Facebook messages from January to March.”
While the majority of people who had sent a holiday card were from Queensland, people in other parts of the country, particularly New South Wales, were also more likely to send the fake card,” Professor James Gorman, a senior research associate in the School of Psychology at the University of Western Australia, said in a statement.”
Some of the messages were so blatant and clearly designed to fool people that we thought the study was important.
“But the more we looked into it, it was pretty clear that these messages were not authentic and we could be sure that the sender of the card was not real.”
The findings suggest that a simple fake card is far more likely than a genuine card to be taken seriously by someone in the west.
“The fake cards are clearly designed as promotional, and people will respond to those messages and share them with friends,” Professor Gorman said.
It’s also possible that the people who send the cards are simply trying to make money.
“It’s possible that people are trying to maximise their profit in the short term, which they’ll do by getting people to share the cards on social media.”
However, if you are a regular shopper at the mall you may not be so quick to share your holiday card, with some people reporting the cards to be so clearly fake that it’s hard to believe they’re genuine.
Professor Bowers says it’s important that shoppers take care when buying a fake card, and that people don’t get too carried away.
“Even if it’s a genuine Christmas card, people can make a joke about it and get a laugh out of it, but I’d suggest not getting too carried over,” he said.