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Evaluating Authority - E-Mail

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: July 6, 1999
E-Mail Faculty on the Site

Also note:
Dispelling Rumors from Forwarded E-Mails
This e-mail on peritoneal cancer is the second one discussed.
Link added February 18, 2000.

Charge for Long Distance E-Mail
Peritoneal Cancer E-Mail
Little Six-Year Old with Cancer E-Mail

Slow Dance
Connected to the six-year-old. Link added July 6, 1999.
Barbara's Tales of the Wooden Spoon: Faxlore/Netlore
Reviews of hoax e-mail.
Link added July 6, 1999.
A Long Pay from Home
Sounds like a take-off on Jonathan Kozol's The Night is Long,
and I am a Long Way from Home
, as does the "spoons"
on the Spoon River anthology. But just guessing. Anyone know?
Link added July 6, 1999.

Evaluating Authority - E-Mail on Charging for Long Distance E-Mail

The E-Mail Itself

This e-mail was went out to our whole campus on Monday, June 28, 1999. This was just one of many I received that and the previous week.

"Important message
please read this and forward it to everyone on your email list.

CNN reported that in the next two weeks, Congress is going to vote on allowing telephone companies to charge for Internet access. That means, every time we send a long distance e-mail we will receive a long-distance charge. This will get costly. Please visit the following web site AND complain. Complain to your Congressman. Don't allow this to pass.

(An URL was provided for form responses to Congress.)

Pass this on to your friends. It is urgent! All of us have an interest in this one. PLEASE FORWARD TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW TODAY BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!!!"

Some Things That Might Alert You That This is a Hoax

First, the person that sent it to you may be completely sincere, a victim of the hoax herself. So, ascribe innocence, at least at that level.

Second, the use of the word URGENT always sets me to verifying information. That reaction is intensified by phrases like "BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!!!"

Check with knowledgeable sources (informed respondents).

Evaluating Authority - E-Mail on Wish of a 6-Yr-Old

On November 23, Jeanne received an e-mail describing the dearest wish of a six-year-old girl dying of cancer. The e-mail asked that we forward it to everyone we could, because the American Cancer Society would donate 3 cents for every such contact. It cited some bible verses, and then gave the name, phone, and fax no. of a doctor in New York.

Now, how can we tell this as a crank e-mail?

  1. This is chain mail. Usually not a good idea to mess with chain mail.

  2. There was a chiding tone to the message.

    " . . . if you're too selfish to take 10-15 minutes scrolling this and forwarding it to EVERYONE, then you are one sick person. Just think it could be you one day. It's not even your money, just your time!"

  3. There was a promise of money to someone.

    "By you sending this to as many people as possible, you can give her and her family a little hope, because with every name that this is sent to, The American Cancer Society will donate 3 cents per name to her treatment and recovery plan."

    sent to where??? and how will the American Cancer Society know? Are there cookies involved tracing machines which respond?

  4. There is an actual number and address given, but with no legitimation of the connection. Beware of dirty tricks being played.


    Dr. Dennis Shields
    Department of Developmental and Molecular Biology
    Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
    1300 Morris Park Avenue
    Bronx, New York 10461
    Phone 718-xxx-xxxx (I have erased the phone number so as to eliminate unneccessary calls to Dr. Dennis Shields, who is apparently a real person. Fax 718-xxx-xxxx (ditto)"

    "Philipians 4:13--For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

  5. All this is enough to send me to the American Cancer Society's Site, where I can link through News Today to Top Stories, and will find under fraud the e-mail in question.

Such childish, and sometimes not-so-childish pranks are damaging to the Internet and e-mail communication. They cause us not to trust at the very moment when governance of the Internet is a major social issue. Do not be a party to such tricks and unethical dealings. Protect the "global social space" we are building together. Make it free, and make it honest and ethical. jeanne

The Peritoneal Cancer E-Mail

American Cancer Society Site External Site

There are some causes for concern in the Peritoneal Cancer E-Mail.

  1. We are urged to send this e-mail widely. But one must note that women have long used word of mouth (or e-mail) to communicate messages for which there was otherwise no forum.

  2. One factor that supports the validity of the e-mail is the author's statement of our need to take personal responsibility for our own health. No collections, no unconnected person's phone numbers, just a warning to take personal responsibility.

  3. In any case we must check the authenticity of the information. On the American Cancer Society search engine, look for "CA 125." You will find two articles that cite the test and the precautions that we are told by this e-mail to take. "Peritoneal cancer" will yield 4 articles. Now you have some support for the authenticity of the e-mail and the information.

    American Cancer Society