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Information on Internet and Web Hoaxes

There is up-to-date and accurate information on viruses and hoaxes at

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The following is from my scrapbook.

This was posted years ago on an EFI teachers list:******************************************************************


Gullibility Virus Spreading over the Internet!


WASHINGTON, D.C.--The Institute for the Investigation of Irregular Internet Phenomena announced today that many Internet users are becoming infected by a new virus that causes them to believe without question every groundless story, legend, and dire warning that shows up in their inbox or on their browser. The Gullibility Virus, as it is called, apparently makes people believe and forward copies of silly hoaxes relating to cookie recipes, email viruses, taxes on modems, and get-rich-quick schemes.

"These are not just readers of tabloids or people who buy lottery tickets based on fortune cookie numbers," a spokesman said. "Most are otherwise normal people, who would laugh at the same stories if told to them by a stranger on a street corner." However, once these same people become infected with the Gullibility Virus, they believe anything they read on the Internet.

"My immunity to tall tales and bizarre claims is all gone," reported one weeping victim. "I believe every warning message and sick child story my friends forward to me, even though most of the messages are anonymous."

Another victim, now in remission, added, "When I first heard about Good Times, I just accepted it without question. After all, there were dozens of other recipients on the mail header, so I thought the virus must be true." It was a long time, the victim said, before she could stand up at a Hoaxees Anonymous meeting and state, "My name is Jane, and I've been hoaxed." Now, however, she is spreading the word. "Challenge and check whatever you read," she says.

Internet users are urged to examine themselves for symptoms of the virus, which include the following:

T. C. is an example of someone recently infected. He told one reporter, "I read on the Net that the major ingredient in almost all shampoos makes your hair fall out, so I've stopped using shampoo." When told about the Gullibility Virus, T. C. said he would stop reading email, so that he would not become infected.

Anyone with symptoms like these is urged to seek help immediately. Experts recommend that at the first feelings of gullibility, Internet users rush to their favorite search engine and look up the item tempting them to thoughtless credence. Most hoaxes, legends, and tall tales have been widely discussed and exposed by the Internet community.

Courses in critical thinking are also widely available, and there is online help from many sources, including

Department of Energy Computer Incident Advisory Capability at

Symantec Anti Virus Research Center at

McAfee Associates Virus Hoax List at

Dr. Solomons Hoax Page at

The Urban Legends Web Site at

Urban Legends Reference Pages at

Datafellows Hoax Warnings at

Those people who are still symptom free can help inoculate themselves against the Gullibility Virus by reading some good material on evaluating sources, such as

Evaluating Internet Research Sources at

Evaluation of Information Sources at

Bibliography on Evaluating Internet Resources at

Lastly, as a public service, Internet users can help stamp out the Gullibility Virus by sending copies of this message to anyone who forwards them a hoax.


This message is so important, we're sending it anonymously! Forward it to all your friends right away! Don't think about it! This is not a chain letter! This story is true! Don't check it out! This story is so timely, there is no date on it! This story is so important, we're using lots of exclamation points! Lots!! For every message you forward to some unsuspecting person, the Home for the Hopelessly Gullible will donate ten cents to itself. (If you wonder how the Home will know you are forwarding these messages all over creation, you're obviously thinking too much.)



The following was also appended to this thread. Webmaster has not checked these sites for robust links in a couple of years, but will remove this message when done ...

The US Department of Energy has a site that references the most frequently found virus hoaxes and chain letters that make the round about the Internet.

From their documentation the following was quoted:

"The Internet is constantly being flooded with information about computer viruses and Trojans. However, interspersed among real virus notices are computer virus hoaxes. While these hoaxes do not infect systems, they are still time consuming and costly to handle. At CIAC, we find that we are spending much more time de-bunking hoaxes than handling real virus incidents. This page describes many of the hoax warnings that are found on the Internet today. We will also address some of the history of hoaxes on the Internet, how to identify a new hoax warning, how to identify a validated warning and what to do if you think a message is a hoax.

Users are requested to please not spread unconfirmed warnings about viruses and Trojans. If you receive an unvalidated warning, don't pass it to all your friends, pass it to your computer security manager to validate first. Validated warnings from the incident response teams and antivirus vendors have valid return addresses and are usually PGP signed with the organization's key."

For the most part, if you do think you have a virus there are several good software programs that will remedy many of them. Most anti-viral software companies have regular updates for their software that will include the most recently developed viral strains.

Some anti-viral software sites are as follows:

Norton Anti-Virus,


For Macintosh Symantec makes SAM,

The above links are only references, there are plenty of other highly reliable and recommended anti-viral software programs for purchase and download all over the Internet.

*PGP is Pretty Good Privacy which is an encryption system developed by someone at MIT. You can get PGP keys to work with a variety of e-mail programs and encrypt e-mail content for security purposes, as well as identify individuals and organizations by the exchange of their keys and certificates.

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Last updated: May 18, 2002 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0