An alternate ending for Spielberg's movie Lincoln? Did the movie close on a Lincoln who escaped assassination and lived the remainder of his days in seclusion?
The above refers to an Internet hoax that I heard about from a movie buff friend of mine who saw a post about it. Later he couldn't find it to send to me. (I suspect the Spielberg attorneys were all over it and the item was pulled almost immediately.)
Whether or not that particular hoax existed, if even for just a few hours, the fact that it existed at all is interesting. Other than befuddling film goers, what purpose was served? What were the creators of the hoax trying to say? What was the point?
Bottom line - it is amazing what people are willing to believe because they read it on the Internet. The Web has been a terrific boon for research and communication, but like all good things, there is a dark side. Here it comes - not everything one reads on the Internet is true. In fact, State Farm is currently running a cute commercial about that. You've probably seen it - the young woman who tells her neighbor that only the truth can be posted on the Internet.
So back to what the hoaxers want to accomplish. No doubt they hope to modify the behavior of anyone who reads their post. They want people to do something or not to do something. They seek to control or entertain or be thought provoking. (I do not immediately assume that all hoaxes are created for nefarious purposes.)
In this case, the hoax designers may have aimed at influencing box office receipts for the opening weekend just to see if they could. Or perhaps there was a disgruntled employee who wanted to get back at someone associated with the film. Maybe the prankster is a serious history buff forcing people to consider how different things would be if Lincoln had not been killed.
No matter the motivation, while you consider why a hoax was perpetrated and what the prankster is trying to say, please remember that it is a hoax.