A Lesson In Email Hoaxes

Ok, no offense, folks, but don’t believe everything you’re forwarded. There are a LOT of urban legends floating around the Internet. Most of them have been there in some form or another for 20 or 30 years. Pranksters just take old hoaxes, mix them up a little, change a tiny bit of information, and reissue it again. And the same people who fell for the first one fall for the new iteration, not recognizing the hoax from the first go-round, and then they suck other poor saps in. It’s all kind of silly.

A good rule of thumb is this – be skeptical, of everything. If it’s been forwarded to you by someone else, even someone you consider to be reliable and trustworthy, consider the forwarded material suspect. Chances are good – _very_ good – that your friend or contact just got sucked into another email (or Facebook, or IM, or MySpace, etc.) hoax. Take a few minutes to Google the subject of the forward, check out “Snopes.com”:http://www.snopes.com. I’d be willing to bet you’ll find the very same forward you just received catalogued there somewhere, with either a Status of true or false. Chances are good it will be false. (A little hint: out of the dozens of email forwards I’ve researched over the years, all but one have proven to be hoaxes.) It won’t hurt anything for you hold off on forwarding it again while you research, and your odds are good that taking those few moments will save you the embarrassment of looking like a fool.

I have a hard and fast rule – don’t send me forwards, _especially_ ones that ask you to read and forward to 5 (10, 15, 30…) people as fast as you can. That kind of tripe is _always_ spam fodder, and I know _I_ don’t want to have to deal with it. Things that you think I might find interesting or amusing are always welcome, of course, but discretion is key. I just encourage you to exercise your mind and check things out before just blindly sending something along. Pranksters get their jollies out of making people look silly, and silly people keep the pranksters in business.

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