A hoax is an act, document, photograph or artifact created with the intention to deceive or defraud the public. An example of a hoax could be something as innocent as an April fool’s prank or as serious as selling an autobiographical story that didn’t actually happen. No matter what the particular form, what distinguishes any hoax from inaccuracy or myth is that it is intentionally misleading. The Internet has provided a whole new realm of possibilities for people with unkind intentions to spread false information. It’s easy to do and inexpensive. Here are some examples of different kinds of Internet Hoaxes.
Web hoaxes consist of bogus Websites designed to fool users into believing they are visiting legitimate home pages when in fact present false or misleading content. They can be meant in fun, but they can also be instructional, political or even vicious. It is intended to deceive the computer user. Particularly email hoaxes can spread false information from person to person with astonishing speed. It is done by encouraging the recipients to forward documents to everybody in their address list. However absurd, chain letters almost always try – and often succeed, to play on the irrational fears of their recipients. “Please copy this message and send it to 10 people” is a common sample of a chain letter. Or “Forward this to everyone you know.” When you see them in your in-box, the best option is ‘delete’. No matter if your friends believe they are doing you a service by forwarding email warnings about computer viruses please think twice before opening them. As a rule, acting on forwarded email warnings is not one of the best ways to protect your machine from viruses. Remove them from your in-box immediately, and delete them from your trash folder.
The following site is a good site to become informed on the latest virus hoaxes.http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/virushoaxes1/Computer_Virus_Hoaxes.htm.
Another rule of thumb about stories or images forwarded via email: if it seems too good to be true, or too crazy to be true, it’s probably a hoax. The sites listed here are great resources to find out if a story that is flying around the Internet and from in-box to in-box is true or false. They are updated daily.http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/reference/a/new_uls.htm or http://www.snopes.com/info/whatsnew.asp.
Be a skeptic…check it out before you forward it! Inform your friends and relatives when you have discovered that a website or an email they have forwarded to you is actually a hoax. Not only will it keep you from sending on false information, you will teach others to think twice as well!