Q: I frequently get email
telling me about some terrible virus with some exotic name.
They say I should send the message to everyone I know.
Are these real? Should
I be sending these to everyone I know?
What you have described is a classic email hoax.
A hoax is some kind of scare alert or story that is not true.
They are started by strange/malicious people and passed on by
innocent users who think they are helping the community by spreading
the warning. Imagine if
one person sent a hoax out to 50 others; they each sent it out to 50
more and then to 50 more. That’s
already 125,000 messages that aren’t true taking up time and space
on the internet and in your life.
Hoaxes are not viruses in the traditional sense, but they are a
big waste of time and energy. And,
NO you shouldn’t be sending them out to everyone you know.
how do you tell the difference between a hoax and a real message?
I’ll get to that, but first lets go over some of the other
kinds of email hoaxes.
Away Hoax: These indicate
they are from some large company like Microsoft or Disney or
Victoria's Secret and if you just send the email to enough people you
will get big money or free stuff.
Trust me, you will be waiting a long time.
Myths and Legends: These can
be warnings about bad things happening to people and animals that
never really happened. These
can be stories or medical information that are well written and appear
to come from a professional source.
For example there was a hoax going around about tampon
companies putting asbestos in tampons making them toxic – all
These usually offer good luck if you send them out or bad luck
if you don’t. If they
want you to send money to the top people on the list, they’re
actually illegal. If
you’re superstitious, bless these as you hit the delete key.
Legends: Sometimes the
stories are actually true – like a popular email petition
circulating about Women in Afghanistan.
However, after tons of email overwhelmed the listed address, it
was cut off and can no longer be used.
The petitions go nowhere.
Better to lookup “Afghanistan Women” on a search engine and
get current information.
is just the tip of the hoax iceberg, but you get the idea.
how do you tell if it’s a hoax or not?
Here are some tips:
virus alerts do not go into detail about how terrible a computer
virus might be. Usually
they summarize the threat and provide a link to more information
stored on a well-known anti-virus organization web site.
The email will come from the anti-virus organization and
not through your friends and relatives.
you are urged to send the email to everyone you know, be very
reputable company would use such a chaotic means of distribution.
for overly emphatic language, the frequent use of UPPERCASE
LETTERS and multiple exclamation points!!!!!!!
These are hoax flags.
the references. Look
up names, references, or other key words from the email on a
search engine. For
example, if you receive the email about Asbestos in Tampons, look
up “tampon asbestos” on a search engine.
You’ll find numerous references indicating that it is a
hoax. ALWAYS check
out an email before sending it out to others.
you want to find out more about hoaxes, check out these web sites:
that information written in an email is not guaranteed to be true.
Check it out for yourself