June 30, 2008

Get real -- really

Any time an e-mail starts with something like "IT IS FOR REAL..." you can be pretty sure it's not.

This oldie that's not a goodie actually landed in my inbox today:

"…To all of my friends, I do not usually forward messages, But this is from my friend Pearlas Sandborn and she really is an attorney. If she says that this will work - It will work. After all, what have you got to lose? SORRY EVERYBODY.. JUST HAD TO TAKE THE CHANCE!!! I'm an attorney, And I know the law. This thing is for real. … Bill Gates sharing his fortune. … Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it …"

And make you a billionaire without your having to spend years learning how to make software that billions of people use every day.

Bill Gates is sharing his fortune, all right, but he's sharing it with genuinely needy people who don't have, like, roofs over their heads and food to eat, OK? Not a bunch of folks who can't be bothered to Google "Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test" so they can find all the pages that tell them this a hoax.

I wrote about this in OBJ back in 2003, and bunches of people wrote about it before me, including the venerable Snopes.com, under the brilliant heading of "Thousand Dollar Bill."

So here we go again, kids. Do us all a favor: When you get one of these e-mails, before you forward it, go to Snopes.com and look for it. You will be amazed at how many of these things are just absolute lies.

I should say you may be amazed. If you're a jaded journalist, you won't be amazed at all, just sad. Not only sad that so many people pull these hoaxes, but that so many people fall for them.

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