Share on Reddit For the last week, the internet — and Facebook in particular — has been positively moist with the foamy, spittle flecks of an outraged, pitchfork wielding mob. This outpouring of outrage has been so verbose and so sudden that the internet has all but run out of upper case letters.
The mob, like a million, breathless, cyber-age Paul Reveres , are warning as many people as they can. Speed is of the essence, it seems, and in an effort to move as quickly as possible many have simply had to leave punctuation at home to save weight.
This cat, they scream, is hiding the darkest of secrets. About eight days ago we noticed that our year-old article about the Talking Angela hoax had suddenly become very, very popular indeed.
What on earth is happening? I decided to take a look at the Talking Angela app, and to read the comments on our site and the Google Play Store to see if there was anything that might explain this tsunami of attention. Here are four things I suspect helped the hoax spread. Within child mode, the chat bot feature is disabled so Angela can respond only to touch and repeat what she hears over the microphone.
The character herself is a talking, animated cat in the Disney mould who is very clearly designed to appeal to young children. Whoever they are, they need to be able to type because the app answers to written questions.
Some of the questions and answers from Talking Angela are mildly flirtatious. Can you tell which is which? The one on the right has Child mode on. If Child mode is important, then the app is badly in need of an obvious way for a parent to see, at a glance, whether Child mode is on or not.
Some will do it deliberately, some accidentally, and some will just enjoy playing with buttons. Consider the following sentence said by one person to another: There is, perhaps, a whiff of the Uncanny Vallley. But we must resist spreading hoaxes because in passing on the false dangers we can end up creating real ones. Actions have consequences, and in the case of a story like Talking Angela the reputations and livelihoods of real people with real jobs, real lives and real families are at stake.