Ok, I admit it. I love getting email. There's just something about getting online, starting the email client and hearing those three wonderful words: "You've Got Mail!" It's somehow life affirming, letting me know that, darn it... I am somebody. Unfortunately, as in all things, there is a dark side to email. Yes, I'm referring to chain letters and virus warning hoaxes.
Email chain letters and virus warning hoaxes have been around as long as email itself. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if the first ever email said something like "Please send this to everyone you know. If you don't, computers will never have more than 4 MB of RAM". Some have even made it to legendary status. Who can forget the "Good Times" virus hoax? This particular warning has been circulating the internet since 1994!
The chain letters I've been seeing lately have to do with Microsoft using some new, miraculous, email tracking software. Supposedly this software has been created to "keep up with the internet giant of Netscape and AOL." According to this chain letter, for every person you forward it to, Microsoft will send you five dollars. For every person they send it to, you will get three dollars. And for every person that they send it to, you get one dollar.
Ok, in all seriousness, does anyone actually believe that Microsoft will give anyone ANYTHING?
Another one that has been circulating lately is similar, only instead of promising money, this one promises a free trip for two to Disney World. This is usually "signed" by, or has some mention of, Walt Disney Jr.
There is no Walt Disney Jr.
Yet another threatens per-minute charges by the FCC on all internet access. This one was so widespread that the FCC itself made a statement: "... the FCC has no intention of assessing per-minute charges on Internet traffic or of making any changes in the way consumers obtain and pay for access to the Internet."
In an informal survey of all the people I know online, not one admitted to liking chain letters or virus warnings - either in email or ICQ. Somehow, these things just seem to materialize out of cyberspace.
If you feel the need to forward a chain letter or a virus warning, please, PLEASE go to the following web sites first.