An open letter to the World Wide Web:
Today I received an e-mail informing me that Microsoft and AOL are performing an e-mail beta test in which they will track everyone I forward the e-mail to, and give me, and anyone and everyone who forwards it, thousands of dollars in return.
And of course, I’m expected to believe that Microsoft would actually perform the world’s most expensive marketing campaign, leaving it bankrupt, because the e-mail says an attorney said it’s true and that both USA Today and Goodmorning America reported on it. On top of that, the landlord of someone’s brother has a kid who’s bus driver’s dog watcher showed them the actual check they received from Microsoft… so it must be true!
An older snopes.com report on such scams states:
“E-mail tracing programs do not exist. Any ‘get something free’ come-on or ‘help a sick kid’ appeal which specifies an invisible program is keeping track of who received an e-mail and who it was then sent to is a hoax. Any such note. No exceptions.”
Please, for all that is holy, do not forward these types of chain e-mails, or anything that in any way resembles it, to anyone…ever. Doing so simply makes you a participant and proponent of these ridiculous and intellectually insulting scams. Even if you are gullible enough to think that it might just be real, please, before you open up your entire list of e-mails to spam your friends and family, do a quick google search. When you do this, it’ll usually take less than a minute (thanks to snopes.com among others) to have the “get rich quick” scheme of the day exposed as a scam. The greatest benefit to you is that after humbly taking a smack in the face by Captain Obvious, you can save your internet reputation, or as I like to call it web-tegrity, and your friends won’t be so quick to delete your e-mails without opening them.
Another piece of web-etiquette…
If you actually have an e-mail that needs to be sent to many recipients, please, use the “blind copy” (bcc) feature. Your contacts may not want everyone else you sent the e-mail to to have their e-mail address to use for their own agenda.
I myself have enjoyed some of the jokes or political satire I’ve received from those who know me well enough to have an idea of what I will appreciate. I just invite people to put more thought and consideration before they push the “send” button. But as far as I am concerned, in no circumstance whatsoever should an e-mail be sent promising that I’ll either get something (including the dream I wished for while scrolling) if I forward it, or that either I or my loved ones will have bad luck for 10 years or have our arms severed off by a crazed ninja if we don’t.