Imagine returning to your house to find much of your belongings gone and an army of strangers rummaging through your house and packing their cars and vans with your possessions.
When you try to stop them they wave a print-out of an advert from Craigslist that says everything in your home is available free gratis.
It happened in Oregon (via TechCrunch) From the AP Report:
The ads popped up Saturday afternoon, saying the owner of a Jacksonville home was forced to leave the area suddenly and his belongings, including a horse, were free for the taking, said Jackson County sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan.
But Robert Salisbury had no plans to leave. The independent contractor was at Emigrant Lake when he got a call from a woman who had stopped by his house to claim his horse.
On his way home he stopped a truck loaded down with his work ladders, lawn mower and weed eater.
"I informed them I was the owner, but they refused to give the stuff back," Salisbury said. "They showed me the Craigslist printout and told me they had the right to do what they did."
The driver sped away after rebuking Salisbury. On his way home he spotted other cars filled with his belongings.
Once home he was greeted by close to 30 people rummaging through his barn and front porch.
The trespassers, armed with printouts of the ad, tried to brush him off. "They honestly thought that because it appeared on the Internet it was true," Salisbury said. "It boggles the mind."
It’s not the first time either, a similar episode took place in Washington state last year.
I’d agree with TechCrunch that the Internet mirrors society and there’s always good and bad.
But the interesting thing, from a communications perspective, is that people consistently take the validity of content they find on the Internet at face value.
Now that’s scary.