fess up! Everyone who has ever received
and forwarded the giant cat picture or the Good
Times virus warning, please raise your hand.
Embarassing wasn't it? The easiest way to save yourself from
looking like Chicken Little screaming that the sky is
falling is to take a few seconds to do a little
Web research. A lot of scams, hoaxes, spam, and junk
mail exist in cyberspace. And soon, you'll realize just
how annoying all this junk mail can become.
What Harm Does It Do?
Before you click Forward, think about these issues.
- You are wasting your friends' valuable time.
- You may be sending a virus, which can
damage your friends' computers.
- Corporations can legally scan employee e-mail,
so you may cost a friend her job.
- You are invading your friend's privacy by
putting her address in front of those who may
eventually receive a copy, including spammers.
- You are helping slow down the Internet by
eating up bandwidth with unnecessary mass mailings.
In short, never forward e-mail that only serves
to feed a hoax, virus, or urban legend. (Plus, you'll
look like a fool when you discover that the rest of
your friends already knew the e-mail was a hoax.)
Sure, there's nothing like a good giggle to break
up the day. But before you click the forward
button, keep the following suggestions in mind.
- Always use caution when opening unknown or
suspicious e-mail. The act of opening an
attachment can unleash a computer virus that damage
your own computer and automatically send copies of
itself to everyone in your address book. At least,
look for personalized text and a signature indicating
the e-mail was sent by a person, not a virus.
- If you're unsure about an e-mail, ask! You want
to ensure it's not an auto-generated virus e-mail.
Be particularly cautious with attachments.
Do Your Research!
Before you pass on an e-mail, open your browser
and do a search in your favorite search engine.
Hoaxes and urban legends circulate for years, so you
may find more details on the Internet. Check these
sites for more information on known hoaxes:
If you don't have time to research an e-mail, just
delete it. Do NOT blindly forward it to all your friends!
Here are a few more tips to help you keep your cyber-friendships intact.
- Do not forward e-mails with other forwarded
e-mails attached or with visible e-mail addresses. If
you must forward something, take the time to copy the
information (Ctrl+C). Then paste just the actual joke/text
without the mess of e-mail addresses.
- Learn to use BCC. All e-mail applications have
a feature called BCC, which stands for blind
carbon copy. If you enter e-mail addresses into the
BCC field, your friend gets the e-mail, but the other
e-mail addresses you sent to aren't visible.
- If you are constantly receiving unsolicited junk
e-mail, do not reply asking to be removed. This is
a trick to verify that your e-mail address is valid.
Instead, learn to use your junk mail filters or
e-mail blockers in your e-mail program.
As the saying goes
"fool me once, shame
fool me twice, shame on me!" Armed with
this information, you can become a responsible
member of the Internet community.