Online hoaxes can prove to be more than minor irritation
ow that the Internet is a way of life for most people today we find ourselves with a whole new set of challenges to deal with.
In years gone by hoaxes and scams were pretty much confined to telephone calls and sketchy door-to-door salesmen, however today we’re seeing a lot of that kind of stuff appear on the Internet. You know the kind of ‘opportunities’ I mean: you get an email from some place like England or Africa telling you that somebody died and left you a gazillion dollars and all you have to do is send a money order, or click on a website address and you’ll be wildly rich. If you believe that kind of letter then I’ve got some prime land in the Florida Everglades you might be interested in taking off my hands. I mean, does anyone really believe this type of message? There are a multitude of hoaxes that are sent all over the world via email; messages that, although they may not tempt a person to get something for nothing, can be very annoying when they continue to be sent to others. You know the kinds of messages I mean; ones like the recent perfume ether hoax where, if you’re approached by a person or persons offering to let you smell a small piece of paper soaked in some glorious new perfume that ends up being ether, which instantly renders you unconscious, after which you are robbed. Do people really think this is true? Of course it’s not; the whole idea is ridiculous, however some people continue to send it to many of their email buddies. And while the message itself doesn’t cause any calamity, the problem is in the re-sending of the hoax. Per-
Npetuating this type of message is actually the hoax, causing millions of messages containing useless information to clog up computers everywhere.
The first thing I do when I get a dubious type of email message is check it out on one of the many hoax info sites available such as Snopes or Hoaxbusters. Most of the time they’re hoaxes or urban legends, so keep in mind a few things the next time you receive ‘information’ emails: most emails that ask you to send it to everyone you know are hoaxes. And just because the sender drops names in the messages such as, ‘sent by RCMP officer soand-so’, or Microsoft, or Dr. Oz - doesn’t make it true. Beware of health or food-related messages that tell you things like asparagus or lemons can cure cancer or that margarine is just one molecule away from being plastic. I don’t know much about chemistry but I know that if you change one molecule in anything, you’ll probably get something else totally different. And if the message tells you it’s NOT a hoax or an urban legend, or you must forward it to everyone you know, you should be suspicious right off the bat. The use of all UPPERCASE LETTERS and many exclamation points!!!!!!! should also be open to immediate suspect.
We all get lots of nice messages from our email buddies; so be careful you don’t allow a hoax to continue by sending everything you receive. There’s a lot of junk mail out there, but it only takes a couple minutes to check if it’s true or not. Your email buddies will be glad that you did.