Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hoax e-mails

Being a communication nerd, I always find these "chain e-mails" that shows up in my inbox now and then very fascinating. Usually some friend has decided to forward them to their entire address book - accompanied by "Read this story - it's amazing/horrible/fun" or something like that. Maybe I'm not like most people since I usually never immediately forward them, but I always go online to search and read about the e-mail, it's origin and how long it has been circulating online.

To this day - it has never happened that one of these e-mails I have checked have ever been true... They are always hoaxes - at least to some extent. They might still be amazing, horrible and fun - but not true.

Urban myths in the e-mail world.

Today I got one that when checked had been circulating the e-mail world since 1999. The original sender claimed to be MADD - a very important organization in the US which fights drunk driving (Mothers Agains Drunk Driving). It claimed, as so many of these, to be collecting names to send to someone, somewhere. MADD had nothing to do with this e-mail, and even though they have said that they of course like initiatives that would try to eliminate drunk driving, sending this e-mail around might not really help or do much (and a lot of their valuable time has been spent answering questions about this e-mail).

Next time you get one of these - google the header or some part of the e-mail and you might be surprised at what you find...

These are some great web pages dedicated to web hoaxes too - a lot of interesting reading if you're interested in new aspects of mass communication...

Snopes.com
ThruthOrFiction.com
Urban Legends at about.com

11 comments:

Liz said...

I can waste hours on snopes.com!
Anyway,my husband and I did end up going to IKEA to see Mark. We even took a picture with him. He was very friendly but he looked awful. When I asked him if he had been outside in the 5 days since he moved to IKEA he said no. I believe it; he was pallid and looked like he hadn't slept for weeks. I think he was very happy he was going home the next day.
I wonder what he'll be up to next?!

Petra H said...

Japp, jag brukar också kolla upp kedjebreven på internet! Jag förstår inte varför folk orkar skicka dem vidare, det är ju bara pinsamt... Jag får en massa på facebook också, vilket gör mig vansinnig (har tagit bort the superwall, eller vad den nu heter, ett antal ggr pga dem).

Liz said...

P.S. The picture is my profile picture.

JaCal said...

Liz - isn't it really interesting to see what goes around!

HOW FUN that you went there! I have watched all the videos and laughed a lot! Ok - so staying at IKEA for five nights is not to be recommended in other words! I love the picture!! Thanks for putting it up! I like him - I think he is funny (and a bit crazy...). Now you just have to start writing your blog too! ;-)

Petra H - många av breven är ju "behjärtansvärda" - så om man inte vet hur man ska kolla kanske man bara skickar vidare - lätt sätt att känna att man gjort en liten insats. Men i det här fallet skapar det ju egentligen mer problem - MADD får ägna massa dyrbar tid åt att hantera mailet - i stället för att gör riktiga insatser.. Ja, på Facebook är det ju helt beklämmande ibland hur folk tappar kollen och bara postar vidare automatiskt. Jag rensar ur rätt rejält där också. Tänker inte folk på rimligheten??

Lennart said...

I usually look up the facts, and return the email to all people that were emailed in the whole chain. One person got angry that I ruined the chance for help for the little lost girl. It didn't matter that the same girl had dissapeared from all continents, under different names, over many years.

Saltistjejen said...

Hm de flesta kedjebrav jag får är mest sådana som "du är en fantstisk kvinna/vän/el dyl och så ska man skicka det vidare till andra fantastiska kvinnor/vänner/el dyl.
Men visst ett par sådan där "protestera mot...-kedjebrev" har jag också fått. Men de brukar jag mest ignorera. Mycket pga att jag inte gillar kedjebrev eller att jag inte har tid eller ork att läsa igenom dem ordentligt.
Men det var kul att se att det verkligen finns en hemsida där man kan läsa om dessa "myter" som florerar på nätet! :-)

JaCal said...

Lennart - I usually return my findings too (usually to the person who sent it - then they can do what they want with the information). Some of these e-mails are really sincere (like the one I got yesterday about drunk driving) that if you don't know it's a hoax (and don't check it) I guess it's really believable. Hm... Have I become a cynic who always assume these e-mails are hoaxes...

Saltistjejen - ja, de är ju mer "harmlösa" och många gånger riktigt kul. En del är ju också mer "virala mail" med bas i något riktigt - som det mail som gick runt med sångerskan som sjunger "mammas-sången". Jag är lite manisk vad gäller spam - och alla typer av kedjebrev är ett utmärkt sätt att sprida sin egen e-post adress ut i cyberrymden! ;-) Sidorna är rätt kul faktiskt - finns mycket intressant där.

Lullun said...

Kul idé! Har aldrig själv tänkt på att kolla upp dem på nätet, men kommer nog att göra det ibland framöver! :-)

Ally said...

I always return it to people and explain that it's not true. What annoys me is when people respond, "Yeah I know, I just thought it was funny/cute/whatever." Uh it's a lie!!! :-) How can they perpetuate that?

JaCal said...

Lullun - ja, det är lite kul faktiskt. En del mail har cirkulerat i flera år och bilder har lagts till, händelser har ändrats... som viskningsleken när man var liten! ;-)

Ally - Of course they can be cute and funny - and - important (such as this - "don't drink and drive")... but then, forwarding these e-mails is really a great way to make sure your - and all your friends' - e-mail addresses have a higher visibility to all the spammers... and what I didn't like about this is that it's taking a very important organization's name and sending out fake e-mails (how ever "behjärtansvärt" (the dictionary says "deserving" but I'm not sure that's the word I'm after) the content is). As they say, this e-mail, which has circulated for years, has taken resources away from then since they had had to respond to questions about it.

Ally said...

Yeah I was thinking more of the ones about health, politics, and then you hear people talk about it like it's a fact, just because it showed up in their inbox. You're very correct about the MADD thing of course.