In our ‘connected’ online world, it’s very easy for hoaxes to spread. This gives us the opportunity to see lots of examples. Some we receive directly from the hoaxsters, others are forwarded to us by our readers (Thank you!). Since hoaxes are intended to trick you in some way, they need to at least attempt to be credible.
For example, since corporations have teams of copyrighters and lawyers checking every official word that is released to the public, we can expect that any emails from companies would be perfect – at least they should be! Sure, even the pros can let an occasional typo slip, but if you spot more than one, then it’s likely a hoax.
When in doubt, contact the company or the sender by telephone or some other means to confirm that the message is legitimate. Do not reply to the email and do not click on the links in the email.
A reader sent us a version of a Facebook hoax that is currently making the rounds. Our friends at Naked Security do a very nice job explaining the hoax and showing how a seemingly innocent action like resending an email can ‘clog the works’, so to speak.
This email hoax highlights the credibility factor that we mentioned above. Even to a person who wouldn’t recognize the sloppy, and therefore suspicious, visual form of this email, the message should be just plain silly. Facebook to close down!? Really? Not likely. With all the new ads and stuff that Facebook pushes to its users, is anyone really worried about the end of the world’s favorite social platform?
In addition – and this is an iron clad rule – pleadings, promises and commands to ‘send this message to X people, or else’ are plain old baloney! Whether they are claiming the desolation of Smaug unless you forward to all your friends, or promising a universal cure for some illness if only you’d send it along, these are chain letters. Even if you are convinced that everything else in the email is perfect and the message is pulling on your heart strings to take action, that text should wake you from your daze; click ‘delete’ and not ‘forward’.