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Hoaxes Online: Potential Internet Disruption

The Internet is visited by millions of people each day, so Internet hoaxes are a great way to reach a large group of people. Internet hoaxes have been around for quite a while and continue to change and develop. The exact reasons why people create and disseminate these hoaxes are unknown. It seems that many people are just bored individuals who want to use their computer knowledge and expertise in a destructive way to interrupt or disrupt people’s lives. Computer hoaxes are generally not malicious—this is why they are termed “hoaxes” as opposed to “viruses.” However, they still have negative effects on computers and computer systems, and therefore need to be stopped.

Internet Hoaxes: Forms and Effects

Internet hoaxes can take many different forms. One of the most common forms is the simple chain letter. Chain letters through the regular postal system are illegal, probably due to the disruption they can cause. Although many people think that chain letters are just fun little games that are harmless, the reality is much different. Sending chain letters through the Internet puts a serious strain on the system and can bog it down, slowing it down and causing transmission problems. Many people do not realize the effect these letters can have and continue to send them thinking that the message is important or funny. Simply refusing to send chain letters after receiving one can help stop the cycle and cut down on the potential problems.

Another form of Internet hoax is the fake virus warning. This hoax is a problem for more than one reason. First of all, it creates a similar strain—if not greater—on the computer and Internet system because people widely transmit these messages to friends and family to help warn against the danger of the virus. Even people who would normally not participate in ordinary chain letters unknowingly perpetuate this cycle because they feel the “virus” warned about is a legitimate threat. If you want to do your part to help prevent or stop Internet hoaxes, the first and easiest thing to do is to refuse to participate in any chain letter cycle. This means not sending funny jokes or stories to everyone in your address list. When you receive virus warnings via email, check with a trusted anti-virus site to verify the warning is legitimate before forwarding the message to others.

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