|Conversation Topics: You've Got Hoax|
|Not since Chester Carlson invented the photocopier
(commonly called a 'xerox machine') has there
been an invention as powerful in the field
of 'grass roots' communication as E-mail.
Couple the "forward" button with
a distribution list, and you can distribute
information from one person to a large group
of people in seconds. And when each of the
recipients employs their own distribution
list to pass the message on again, a message
can travel around the globe to millions in
Hoaxes -- usually about computer viruses, but sometimes about other things -- take advantage of this power. One of the most recent ones bouncing around the Internet concerns people receiving blue sponges in the US Mail. Acting out of concern for their friends, many people forwarded it on to their distribution list. However, as you can read at the Center for Disease Control's website at http://www.cdc.gov/hoax_rumors.htm , this and other E-mail warnings are simply hoaxes -- spread by those seeking attention or to frighten an already uneasy audience.
Don't allow yourself to get duped by a hoax. Even by saying, "I don't know if this is true or not..." still puts you in the position of perpetuating the hoax. So, before you forward an E-mail to everybody on your distribution list, look for these "red flags" in the note:
Finally, use commonsense when trying to judge the truthfulness of notes. While E-mail is a great way to send information quickly, people who are responsibly trying to alert the public to danger know that there are many other methods that are more reliable for reaching a large audience than relying on notes randomly filtering through the Internet.
Updated October 1, 2003 - go to our home or life advice page