TSGS Cruiser Blog

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"How to Spot an Email Hoax!"


As we travel along our journey to find our ancestors, most of us are going to begin using the Internet to help us make connections with distant relatives, find some documents/photos, read U.S. Census & other records published online. We will decide to subscribe to email lists, maybe get a paid subscription to Ancestry.com or some other commercial genealogical organization. We will often get involved with all sorts of things on the Internet: FaceBook, Twitter, Blogs, Websites... we may even volunteer to be a County Coordinator for the USGenWeb Project. We will begin to get quite a few emails daily including junk mail, generally called "spam." Sooner or later (mostly sooner), you will start getting messages from well meaning people warning you of the latest disasters which generally are mostly false if not totally untrue. You will get messages that urge you to forward whatever message to everyone in your mailbox... some will even state that good fortune or bad luck will happen if you send it off (or not forward it) within a short time span. Most if not all are hoaxes based on rumors or partial truth - often total falsehoods!

I found a nice short (about 2 minutes) video "How to Spot an Email Hoax!" by Jonathon E. Stewart http://video.about.com/urbanlegends/Spotting-E-mail-Hoaxes.htm?nl=1

This is on About.com: Urban Legends. Another great site to check possible hoaxes is Snopes.com: http://www.snopes.com/

Before you forward a message to everyone you know... it might be wise to check and see if it is valid. There is nothing worse than one of your friends proving that you were a big, gullible fool passing on false information. Sadly, from then on you are guilty of spreading hoaxes. Remember to just think a little... if it sounds unbelievable, it probably is false! Most of these messages are designed to damage a person's reputation (usually for political purposes). It amazes me that too many genealogists will forward on these hoaxes without checking for documentation. There are a lot of family history hoaxes that you need to track down & prove or dis-prove before you pass it along to others. Your reputation hinges on passing along information that is as factual as reasonably expected... not just because you want it to be true or worse that you suspect it to not be true, but wish to pass it along anyway!

-Compiled by JGWest


Anonymous said...

Anoter good source to check out a hoax on the intenet is www.truthorfiction.com

John G. West said...

Thanks for the added link to another good hoax-buster site! I have several friends who use Truth or Fiction.