How to spot an e-mail hoax
HERE are 10 steps to identify Internet hoaxes, courtesy of David Emery, About.com’s guide to urban legends and Internet hoaxes. It actually takes less time to read this than to read and forward more Internet junk.
1. Note whether the text was actually written by the person who sent it to you. If not, be sceptical.
2. Look for the telltale phrase, “Forward this to everyone you know.”
3. Look for statements like “This is NOT a hoax” or “This is NOT an urban legend.” They usually mean the opposite of what they say.
4. Watch out for overly emphatic language, the frequent use of UPPERCASE LETTERS and multiple exclamation points!!!!!!!
5. If the message seems geared more to persuade than to inform,be suspicious. Like propagandists, hoaxers are more interested in pushing people’s emotional buttons than communicating facts.
6. If the message purports to give you extremely important information that you’ve never heard of before or seen elsewhere in legitimate venues, be suspicious.
7. Read carefully and think critically about what the message says, looking for logical inconsistencies, violations of common sense and obviously false claims.
8. Look for subtle or not-so-subtle jokes, indications that the author is pulling your leg.
9. Check for references to outside sources. Hoaxes will not typically name any, nor link to websites with corroborating information.
10. Check to see if the message has been debunked by websites that cover Internet hoaxes
1. Virtually any chain e-mail you receive (i.e., any message forwarded multiple times) is more likely to be false than true. Be sceptical.
2. Hoaxers usually try every means available to make their lies believable – e.g. mimicking a journalistic style, attributing the text to a “legitimate” source, etc.
3. Be especially wary of health-related rumours. Most importantly, never act on this type of “information” without first verifying its accuracy with your doctor or other reliable source.