On October 10 2021, a screenshot of a purported Facebook warning asking members of canning and prepper groups if they knew someone who was “becoming too prepared” was shared to Reddit’s r/comedyheaven:
A nearly identical screenshot was shared to r/conspiracy in early September 2021. Appended to the post was a screenshot from the group “Canning Simple Recipes Food Gardening Preserving and Crafting Group,” with the following post content visible:
Anyone ever see this? My SIL got this warning in another canning group. ????
Of note is the fact that the original poster (OP) didn’t claim to have received the “becoming too prepared” Facebook warning firsthand, but rather that their “sister in law” witnessed the pop-up warning. That read:
Are you concerned that someone you know is becoming too prepared?
We care about preventing extremism on Facebook. Others in your situation have received confidential support.
[i] How you can help
Hear stories and get advice from people who escaped violent extremist groups.
One of those things was not like the other — the first and most visible line of text purportedly queried users about someone they know who was “becoming too prepared.” But in a facet suggestive of editing, the remainder of the screenshot referenced “extremism on Facebook” and “escap[ing] violent extremist groups.”
A search for “becoming too prepared” on Twitter indicated that similar discussions about the screenshot had been going on for at least a month on that platform. Suspiciously, when screenshots were included, it was almost always the same one (or a slightly different version of it):
Readers taking the content of what appeared to be two extremely specious screenshots at face value seemed to be due to a widely-reported and nearly identical Facebook warning rolled out around July 2021:
Facebook Inc (FB.O) is starting to warn some users they might have seen “extremist content” on the social media site, the company said on [July 1 2021].
Screenshots shared on Twitter showed a notice asking “Are you concerned that someone you know is becoming an extremist?” and another that alerted users “you may have been exposed to harmful extremist content recently.” Both included links to “get support.”
On July 2 2021, screenshots of the “becoming an extremist” warning appeared on Reddit:
A user from r/preppers spotted the r/comedyheaven iteration and shared it; consensus in the thread was that the screenshot was faked:
A similar credulity emerged in two earlier r/conspiracy threads, where users described the image as an obvious fake:
Facebook’s rollout of the “becoming an extremist” warning in July 2021 received significant news coverage from international news organizations. Extending the warning to being “prepared” would likely generate significant interest and discourse — as the screenshots did.
By contrast, a search for the “are you concerned someone you know is becoming too prepared” Facebook warning returned a total of seven results. Most of those were crawled copies of the Reddit threads linked above, and none were news or verified reports.
Claims an “are you concerned someone you know is becoming too prepared” Facebook warning popped up in prepping and canning groups were virally popular, virtually always secondhand, and never well sourced. Facebook’s rollout of the “becoming an extremist” pair of warnings was well documented, unlike the near-identical screenshots fueling the “becoming too prepared” rumors. Since the screenshot appeared to originate in a closed group, its origin is difficult to verify, but it likely was created to satirize the “becoming an extremist” warning, which was real, before becoming decoupled from its source and alarming pickle enthusiasts.