Saturday, October 01, 2005

Lies, Lies and More Half Truths

Urban Legends, Hoaxes, Chain letters - what you don't know will just annoy others.

Whoa, listen up. You MUST FORWARD this bLOg on to ALL of your FRiEnDs and EVERY SINGLE EMAIL ADDRESS YOU CAN GET YOUR HANDS ON. IF you CARE about your [insert favorite subject here: mom, dad, friend, child, earth, country, etc] then you MUST FORWARD THIS BLOG ON, otherwise the CuRsE of the iNteRNet BOOGieMaN will be the stain on your hands forever...


Ha ha, the jokes on you. I hope you don't fall for any of the gazillions of cursed hooey nonsense emails that fill your up precious email inbox. The advent of cheap, simple and easy to use email has made it possible to just click and ship hundreds of email messages on their way to the ethernet and beyond. The ease of sending emails is inversely proportional to the amount of spam. Don't be a victim of some joker's hoax and pass on fake emails to all your friends and family.

Let me explain. There are many emails that are often forwarded to you from many well meaning friends. Many of these emails are basically very tall tales. They're hoaxes, lies, half-truths that either outright lie or distort the truth to make an interesting or scary story. They are usually recycled stories with the subject or person updated to reflect a current event or subject. Most are harmless, but many are vicious lies that attempt to smear some person, be it a politician or community member, and or try to take advantage of your naivety or kindness.

But It Looks or Sounds Legitimate...

Some of the emails contain pictures that have been doctored to look like real pictures, but are fakes. Some of them sound very logical and seem to make sense, but are not true. They often state quotes made by famous people, but in fact are NOT statements made by them. It's so easy to edit anything to make it seem like it's a fact, when in reality, it's just someone making it up. It's also easy to prey on your heartstrings, with tales of "Timmy's poor plight of misery", when it's actually a fake story.

But don't get your skivvies in a knot over them. Use common sense and always, always first check the urban legends or hoax websites. I've listed some good ones below:

These are great resources to determine if the email message that you received is legitimate or a hoax. 99% of the time, it's probably an urban myth or hoax.

Here are some obvious characteristics of fake emails to help you identify the fakes from reality:
  • 1. EMAILS WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS and/or in bold. Supposedly this form of email "yelling" helps you determine that what the author says is legitimate or true. NOT.

  • 2. Emails telling you to "Forward this to everyone you know or care for". A sure sign of desperation of the huckster trying to make it sound urgent.

  • 3. Plans and schemes to "Forward this to a hundred of your closest friends" so that you will reap thousands of dollars from Microsoft or Disney or some company that will track all your forwarded email messages and pay you for "testing" their system. Email does NOT work like that. No one can or will be able to track who you sent an email to. And no company is going to pay beaucoup bucks for this.

  • 4. Emails telling you to forward this to email to ten other people and watch what happens. Again, the only thing that will "happen" is that you will get several emails from your recipients telling you that the email is a hoax. Email is like a postcard. No one is going to track where it's been or where it's going.

  • 5. Email messages begging you to send a gazillion emails to XYZ company so that they will donate a dollar for each email message you send. Again, NO company appreciates all your spam.

Maybe it's True, But Maybe it's a Virus

Don't take a chance. Many times you'll receive an email that "might" be legitimate, so you decide to forward it to all your friends "just in case it's true", but it's better to hit the delete key.

"When in doubt, cut it out"

There is always the possibility that the email message is carrying a virus or trojan, so it's safer to delete it than to infect all your friends. Keep in mind that it clogs up the internet mail servers and wastes people's time in having to download then delete the emails. An estimated 90 % of email internet traffic is junk spam, and someone ends up paying for all that bandwidth and time; and that someone is you and me.

So always first check the hoax buster websites before sending them on. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is a hoax. At the very least, if you know it's not true, make sure the recipients you send it to know this, so that they can get a good laugh at what some huckster is trying to pull.

And don't forget to send this to all of your friends... ;)