Friday, 27 February 2009

Freaking Fake Forwards

Don't you just hate it when you get the same forwards again and again from friends every few weeks, months, etc? What's worse is many times these forwards are completely useless and full of lies. Probably the most annoying ones are those that threaten you with some kind of misfortune if you do not forward them to a few 100 friends. Okay, so I'm exaggerating regarding 100 friends.

Lately I was sent forwards of all kinds. The only common factor was that they were all a waste of time and full of lies. I don't mind a good joke or a nice message or even cute baby pics but the moment a forward tells me to pass it on, I reach for the delete button. If it was a good message, it would spread without the need for any kind of pressure. If you've noticed, many "religious" forwards try to guilt trip you into forwarding the messages. So, people forward them along just to ease their conscience so they don't feel like the bad guy or girl. You hit forward and wow, don't you feel great? Don't kid yourself.

Okay, so maybe I'm being a bit harsh and sarcastic. But someone needs to talk about this and break the cycle. There are amazing websites made to destroy the chain of false forwards. If only someone took the trouble to google instead of hitting the forward button.

So, for those who are really interested in breaking the chain and don't want to feel guilty about sending out and spreading lies, here are a few simple tips on what you can do to be sure of the contents of the mail:
1. Simply google the subject of the forward. Most of the time the forward is really old and people have discovered it's fake. These are the people who made the REAL effort. If that doesn't work you can always add the word "hoax", "fake", etc to the search and it's likely that if it indeed is a hoax, you'll find something about it.
2. Sometimes subjects get changed and you don't find much so try to pick out key words or phrases from the email and google for that.
3. Try searching for the email specifically on sites like the following:
Hoax Slayer
Hoax Buster
4. If the forward is of a specific nature, then check for the information on specific sites.
eg. A very popular one was hotmail shutting down and asking users to forward the mail to discover the users whose accounts are still active. Isn't it strange that most people decided it's easier to forward the message than to actually contact the hotmail staff and ask them if the information was true?
Other popular messages that spread fast are about viruses. Best thing is to check with Microsoft and other such sites regarding these viruses. Again, most of the time, they are fake. But it's always better to be safe than sorry. Be sure if it's real and what you can do to protect yourself.
Fake Islamic emails, unfortunately, are also very common. Many times I've noticed they are about fake hadith. These probably take more effort in figuring out because there are no specific sites aimed at such kinds of forwards. The possible options here are asking your local imam, writing in to the many islamic q&a sites which you trust (but that could take some time), or trying to google for the hadith, and other content to make sure we aren't spreading false information. Usually one of the clues that the email is fake or atleast partially fake is if it contains any kind of shirk (associating partners with Allah), threatening you with any kind of misfortune, not mentioning the source of the information, hadith, or generally a very haphazard, random message with no real purpose or very poorly written. Meaning, it's not an Islamic article. It's like a forward with some hadith or "Islamic" story, a few inshaAllahs and a please share it with others.

InshaAllah, I'll try my best to pick out the fake Islamic emails whenever I come across them and post them here.

In the meantime, if you manage to follow the simple tips I've suggested instead of simply hitting that forward button, feel free to feel great. Now please forward this message to everyone you know. ;)