Bill Gates is not giving you $1000. Facebook/Hotmail is not shutting down your account. KFC is not raising mutant chickens for your consumption. Big companies don’t do business via chain letters. So you can relax; there is no need to pass it on “just in case it’s true”. Furthermore, just because someone said in the message that “we checked it out and it’s legit”, does not actually make it true. It’s probably all a lie.
Examples of Chain Letters /Chain Emails
Remember the Chain email about some Asian guy eating baby fetuses? yea that was actually an art project, but it spread world-wide as a horror story of people eating unborn babies as a delicacy. The images are still not easy to stomach but it’s a popular example I show people. Like i always say, emails are as trustworthy as finding a piece of paper on the floor, treat it with the same skepticism. More examples:
- Craig Shergold – Charity chain letter (“send get-well cards to a dying child”)
- Jessica Mydek – Charity chain letter (“money will be donated each time this message is forwarded”)
- New Carjacking Scheme – Fear Mongering chain letter (criminal activity)
- Bud Frogs Screensaver – Fear Mongering chain letter (computer virus)
- Antiperspirants Cause Breast Cancer – Fear Mongering chain letter (dangerous product)
- Flesh-Eating Bananas – Fear Mongering chain letter (contaminated food}
Forwarding virus warnings, prize draw chain e-mails and Health warnings about Dioxins in your freezer might seem like you’re being helpful, but you’re more likely misinforming others and increasing someone’s level of paranoia. Most of these types of e-mail are scams or nuisances, but some can be damaging and by forwarding them you are adding to the problem and becoming a perpetrator of e-mail abuse.
Why are Chain Letters so Effective at Spreading?
Before email existed, chain letters spread via regular mail (yes people actually sat down and wrote out chain letters) and they could spread far and wide using pen and paper. Imagine now them, with our wonderful Internet, how much technology has helped chain letters explode into something which impacts every single one of us. Obviously the speed of email (less than a minute) and the ease at which someone can create and pass on a viral email (also, less than a minute) is a lot greater than for traditional snail mail, and the anonymity of email reduces the risk to those who purposely write, develop and continue the chains online.
Two of the key criteria required for successful chain letters are facilitated by the ease and power of Email systems:
- copying fidelity, that is, the less a message changes each time it is transmitted the greater the chance it has to retain the effective parts and continue spreading, and
- fecundity, that is, the more people it can be transmitted to the more successful it will be.
When You Receive a Chain Letter/E-mail (even from a trusted friend):
- Don’t forward it to anyone else.
- Do not forward it to me (i will ban you)
- Reply to the sender (if you know them) without including the contents of the original e-mail and politely ask them not to send you any more. If you do not know the sender, ignore the e-mail and report it as spam.
- If you simply cannot bear not to forward a chain e-mail (you probably have OCD), send it back to only yourself (10 times if necessary)
Computer Virus / Computer Security Chain Letters
Most security warnings sent by e-mail, such as virus alerts, are hoaxes. Unless you have received a security warning from a legitimate anti-virus organization (that you signed up for), you can be 99.9% positive that the information is fraudulent. You must check/research the information you receive before you decide whether or not to send it to someone else. Forwarding security alerts without verifying their accuracy can cause annoyance, panic, damage to others’ computers (some virus hoaxes erroneously instruct a user to delete vital files from their operating system or actually contain a virus themselves) and embarrassment when you find out that the information you just e-mailed to everyone in your address book is a hoax.
Charity and Social Cause Chain Letters
If you truly want to help disadvantaged children, endangered species or support another charity or movement, go directly to their Web site[s] to learn more, make a donation or sign up for newsletters etc. You can use a search engine to find them, it takes about the same amount of time and effort to run a search as it does to forward a questionable e-mail. If you really want to tell a friend or loved one that you care about them, don’t do it with a junk e-mail that has been repeatedly forwarded. Tell them yourself.
Where to Find the Truth
The following websites are dedicated to investigating and exposing hoax emails and chain letters. most will provide a history of the content and will let you know if any part of it is true, if at all.
So please remember folks : No chain e-mails are legitimate, credible companies do not conduct their marketing in such a fashion. Chain e-mails cannot bring you fortune or cause bad luck, they will not make you rich and you must never take the information at face value – always do your own research. They are at best mischievous, and are at worst (like virus hoaxes) designed to cause worry, panic and misinformation. And yes, “God loves me even when I don’t forward those chain letters.”
TriniBerry @ Facebook
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