On­line hoaxes can prove to be more than mi­nor ir­ri­ta­tion

Sackville Tribune - - OPINION - Joan Leblanc

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.

Joan’s Jab­ber­ings

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