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Recommendations about Hoaxes What is a hoax ? Why hoaxes are bad ? How not to get a hoax ? How to get rid of a hoax ?

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Recommendations about Hoaxes

What is a hoax ?

An internet Hoax is usually a mail you receive from one of your relation that inform you about something very important and very urgent.
Because the mail appears to be as important as a life or death question, the user don't take the time to verify the validity of the sources and forward it to all his address book. The goal of the hoax is to multiply, and if you send it to all your contacts, his objective is reached.

Hoaxes themes are generally :

  • computer science virus
  • missing person
  • marketing promotions
  • urban legends
  • myths
  • chain letter

Why hoaxes are bad ?

In fact, technically, Hoaxes are not very bad  for the user's system because they don't contain any bad stuff inside, but the big risk with this sort of thing is their ability to multiply.

Explanation:

Most people send the hoax messages to everyone in their address books, but consider if they only sent them on to 10 people. The first person (the first generation) sends it to 10, each member of that group of 10 (the second generation) sends it to 10 others or 100 messages and so on.

Generation:

1

2

3

4

5

6

Number of Messages

10

100

1,000

10,000

100,000

1,000,000

As you can see, at sixth level there are a million e-mail messages being processed by our mail servers. The capacity to handle these messages must be available, if it's not the case mail servers slow down to a crawl or crash. Note that this example only forwards the message to 10 people at each generation while people who forward real hoax messages often send them to all their contacts.

In conclusion, this example is the proof that hoax has a real impact on the Internet traffic, and this excess of consumption has a real cost.

How not to get a hoax ?

Like spam or virus your mailbox can't be hoax free. Hoaxes are often sent by your friends, coworkers, family and so on, this is the mainly reason why they are able to multiply and spread so easily over the world. There is no magic formula to not get a hoax but you can follow the basic recommendations below :

  • Don't give your email address on commercial websites 
  • Don't participate to news group with your real mail address
  • Tell your friends, coworkers or family how to recognize a Hoax.
  • Don't forward any received message to your contacts if you are not really convinced of his veracity.

How to get rid of a hoax ?

Hoax are commonly just plain text message, so if you receive one and you are convinced it is a hoax, simply delete it from your mailbox.
You may also want to know how to recognize a hoax ?