I do believe that by now most of us veterans of the internet are well aware of the dangers of opening email messages that could contain a virus. We are also hopefully by now well aware that it is almost certain that emails stating lottery winnings, or long lost relatives with an inheritance, are also false, and yet so many people still continue to believe emails that they receive, and forward them on, without checking the facts first.
The main difference between the emails that we believe and those that we don’t is frighteningly enough due to where they came from. Emails from strangers we question, but emails from a friend or family member are usually assumed to be true, and therefore we do as requested, and forward them to as many people as we can, so alert them as well.
Change Your Facebook Profile Picture To A Cartoon Character
The latest of these arrived today, and it relates to the current trend on Facebook of changing your avatar to a cartoon character, to show your support for combating child abuse.
If you have a Facebook account, you may have seen one or more of the following messages recently:
From the 16th to the 20th of November, we shall change our profile pictures to our favorite cartoon characters. The purpose of this game is to remove all photos of human for a few days from Facebook.
Change your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal? To not see a human face on Facebook until Monday Dec. 6. Join the fight against child abuse copy & paste to your status and invite your friends to do the same
A new warning has begun to appear however, one that is likely to scare people into changing their avatar back to a human form:
READ CAREFULLY……! The group asking everyone to change their profile picture to their favorite cartoon character is actually a group of pedophiles doing it because kids will accept their friend request faster if they see a cartoon picture. It has NOTHING to do with Child … Violence/NCPCC…. It was on a show that … warns you about internet frauds and TONIGHTS news…. PLEASE COPY AND PASTE THIS
According to Snopes , a trusted source for the background on all kinds of hoaxes, spoofs and urban legends, the messages begin to appear in November and were related to 19 November, the International Day for Children’s Rights, but as time has gone on, the time period has been extended and the purpose of the change has been modified.
Now a darker side to this has appeared, linking the use of cartoon figures on your profile to child abuse, although there is no evidence that there is any truth in this.
As always though, it only takes one friend to forward this to you, and you immediately begin to panic, and forward the message to everyone in your address book, without first removing the hundreds (and sometimes thousands) or addresses that are already there.
The message gets larger and larger, and all too often lands in the hands of a predator. Most likely this is not a child molester, but an email address harvester, and suddenly along with all our friends, we find that our mailbox is filling up with even more spam and junk mail.
Air Traveler Arrested For Ejaculating During A TSA Patdown
This is another emailed story that has been circulating this month, and tells of a 47 year old gay man who was arrested at the airport in San Francisco for ejaculating while he was being patted down by a male agent.
There is no evidence at all that this is based on truth, in fact this is just one of a number of stories that are related to news items, in this case the employment of new full body scanners at airports.
Another story supposedly had a TSA agent “pleasuring himself” while watching images of passengers in the scanners. Again there is not a shred of evidence that any of this is true.
Read the full story HERE .
Other Current News Stories And Hoaxes
Snopes.com has the lowdown on just about every weird story that is proliferating on the internet, from the ridiculous to the fake Amber Alerts that also circulate from time to time.
You can see the full list of current stories HERE and also search for any others that you want to check to see if there is any truth in them or not.
Other Sick And Sad False Alarms
From time to time reports will circulate on the internet of teenagers missing from home, the email often describing the child as the daughter or niece of a family member or a neighbor. Usually the alert is accompanied with an Amber Alert, the USA nationwide alarm system for when a child goes missing. The alert is also usually complete with photographs of the person who is missing.
So when we receive these alerts, what do we do? Naturally we panic because a friend sent it to us, and we help spread the news across the web and around the world.
If we only took a few minutes to just check on Snopes , we would almost certainly find that the story has been circulating for several years, if not longer. The name of the person and the details often changes, as does the photo, but it’s all a hoax, nevertheless.
I have even had a company CEO in Miami forward one of these to everyone in the company, thousands of employees, only to find that they were also duped.
So What Should We Do When We Receive One Of These Emails?
The first thing to do is go to Snopes.com , and to search on the site to see if the message is listed. If it’s an Amber Alert etc, just search for the name of the person, or any of the details, and almost certainly it will be listed there as a hoax.
The second thing to do is to email the person who sent you the message, possible even email everyone that they send it to as well, using BCC (Blind Copy) so that each person who receives the message only sees your email address, not the full list. Tell them that the message is a hoax, and include a link to the evidence, whether this is a link to an article on Snopes or other evidence.
The third thing to do is to delete the message. On no account forward it to everyone in your address book, as this is only going to make it circulate further, and you can guarantee that at least 8 out of every 10 recipients isn’t wise enough to check before acting.
Let’s stay safe out there, and have fun online, without putting the email addresses of ourselves of people that we know at risk.