Sunday, April 09, 2006

Stop Perpetuating Urban Legends

I was checking out Bubba's Sis's blog and she had a great post on a subject I was thinking about on Thursday: Urban Legends spreading through email forwards.

Her post details a story about how to use keyless entry to unlock a care through a cell phone. She did some checking with her husband, who works with cars for a living, as well as and found the story to be nothing but an urban legend.

For those readers unfamiliar with, it is an amazingly thorough archive of popular and lesser known urban legends. Each entry gives all of the details of the story and then verifies the validity of each story. It is a very complete database that I have found very useful for more than five years. It has been especially handy in debunking those pesky forwarded emails about how, for example, Bill Gates will send you money for forwarding emails, a child of a friend of a friend was abducted or that a sexual predator named "monkeyman935" is luring women to their deaths via internet chatrooms.

The bad thing about internet forwards is that most people believe them immediately and quickly forward them to their entire address book without thinking twice. I have been guilty of it myself. But for the better part of five years, I have been using Snopes to validate most forwards before I forward them on myself. In my experience, I would have to say that 99% of all email forwarded stories are completely bogus. The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team even has a webpage devoted to Internet Hoaxes complete with a list of other sites that validate the stories in emails.

The bottom line is that email forwards waste a considerable amount of time for the average user. I only find them entertaining from the standpoint of how many different variations of the same story that "happened to a friend of mine" can appear in my inbox over the course of a few days. Usually they are just annoying because they are almost never true. Please don't believe everything your friends email you. Take a couple of minutes to check out the story before you react in a panic. If you find out that the story is just an urban legend, do what Bubba's Sis does and let everyone who got the email know that it's a hoax and make sure to send them to the appropriate page on so that these stupid forwards will die.

No comments: