Friday, February 27, 2009

Snopes and the Email dilemma

Ok, here's my question: If someone forwards you an email, and the information in it is blatantly false, do you tell them, or just let it go?

I have several people who have me on their forwarding list. We laugh about it because I do computer consulting and have warned people about opening forwarded emails - it's a great way to get a virus or worm, especially since there could be damaging code hidden in JPG files or movies. I'm pretty paranoid about those things, and because of that I've only had one virus slip by me in many years. Most forwarded emails go right in the virtual round file.

I'll read them if they are just text. My point is that sometimes there's something wrong in there, I always want to tell them about it. It's easy enough to look these things up on Snopes and confirm or bust most of them. Sometimes I see where another recipient busts it and does a reply-to-all. I have to say that's a great way to at least stop people from forwarding it further, but it must be a little humiliating for the person who started it.

I'm a sceptic, I take everything with a grain of salt. It's kind of sad really. Dave says I'd be no fun at a party, because someone tells a story and I'd be fact-checking it! A few years ago there was an email about Mel Gibson being passed around, and the story it told was just too incredible to be true. Click here to see the Snopes entry. I told the coworker who had passed it around at work that it wasn't true, and she got indignant. I had spoiled her fun. But it's not true, I protested. Yeah, she said, but it was a good story!

Stuff like that explains why I was cruising down the highway and heard the DJ on a radio station in Colorado Springs talking about the kidney thief story as if it were a fact - I just about drove off the road when I heard that!

So what do you do when you get an email that you know is false? Do you correct the sender? Do you do a 'reply to all' and let everyone know? Or do you round file it and go on with your day?


Goofy said...

It depends on who's sending it.
My half sister Max was constantly sending me "WARNING" emails about kidnappers waiting in the back seat of your car, or how you should check under your car to see if someone is hiding there, etc. I finally sent her the link to Snopes and suggested she look up stuff before she forwards it. She took my advice to heart and now when she sends me stuff, it's got the link to Snopes to prove that she looked it up and it's true (or mostly true). :)
On the other hand, I have a family friend that I don't know very well (he's more my Mom's friend) send me stuff all the time. I don't bother correcting him because I don't know him well enough.
I wouldn't ever send a blanket email because I wouldn't want that done to me. I would feel embarrassed and humiliated. :)
Then there's my daughter, who just doesn't care if it's true or not; she just likes the stories. (shrug) Whatever. Make a fool of yourself if you want. No skin off my nose.
Hope this helped at least a little!!!

dotoner said...

I usually just delete them and sigh at stupidity. I agree with you - be a sceptic! Of course if you are going to correct people expect that they wont like it!! :)

And one more thing - you are so fun at parties! Tell Dave he needs to check his sources!

Mer said...

I correct them. I look it up on Snopes, and send it back to them. (But not to their whole list of recipients!)

If I think they are unlikely to care, I just delete it, and know that I did my part by not forwarding it on.

annaliese said...

I used to correct people and send them to Snopes. But I did offend someone so now I tend to just delete. It does amaze me that some people have so much time to forward all that crap.

oh, and I agree with Do. you are a BLAST at parties! Dave is wrong.