Some people still don’t understand the damage that can be done by forwarding unsolicited emails, so I’m afraid I’m getting on my soap box in the interests of minimising the spread of computer viruses by innocent people who don’t realise how this works.

I blogged about this back in December 2008 (click here for original post) and since then I have referred many people to that post to educate them about not spreading virus warnings, hoax emails and chain letters.

The salient points bear repeating:

1. It’s a hoax. It doesn’t matter what the warning or content of the message is, the goal is to get you to pass on the email.
2. Most of the heartwrenching stories about sick children are completely untrue and many have used the names of real charities, resulting in those charities having to dedicate precious resources to dealing with the resulting problems.
3. You actually increase the risk of real viruses getting through to everyone you pass these email messages on to – a real virus will often try to send itself to every email address it encounters on someone’s computer. You send a warning email to me and my email address is then present on all the computers of all the people you passed this email on to. So is yours!
4. Unless you used a private emailing method, when you pass on these emails, it’s likely you’re sharing private email data without permission and that could land you in various kinds of trouble.
5. Some people have bandwidth limits with their ISP and this kind of thing clogs up their email inbox, preventing real and important messages getting through

Click here to read the full post.

If the email has come from someone you know, you may want to suggest they come here and read for themselves why it’s not a good idea to pass these on.  If you do not know the sender, or suspect they did not actually send it themselves, then don’t respond – hit the delete key straight away.

If you would like to do your bit to help educate people, feel free to use this graphic, it has no copyright on, so you can go ahead and put it on your blog or website.  All I ask is that you include the link to the original blog post here:

As I said last time I talked about this – please don’t feel bad if you thought you were doing the right thing by passing on virus warnings, etc.  Everyone has to learn this for themselves as many of these emails are very plausible.  In fact, they are getting increasingly sophisticated and I would urge everyone to really think twice before passing anything on at all.

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  1. Even before reading your post I have to admit that I don’t forward most of email that I get. I hate chain letters and I’m sick to death of all the warning emails that are more urban myth than fact and I automatically delete them.
    I also have all my email attachments checked for viruses before I open them. I do think it’s scary that you get an email and it can have dozens of names and addresses on it – and then people wonder why they get spam etc.
    The problem is people don’t use BCC when sending to multiple addresses and that must be going against Data Protection Laws, if they did it would make the web safer.

  2. So glad you’ve highlighted this again, Glenda. I’m fed up with getting this rubbish & it goes straight in the bin. What really annoys me is when people forward these emails and don’t bother to delete the addresses of previous senders, thus exposing them to all and sundry without the owners’ permission. As you say, most people think they are being helpful and don’t realise the damage which can be done. I’m off to put your graphic on my blog!

  3. Thanks for bringing this up again Glenda. As you know at the time of your previous blog post I had been a victim of this sort of thing. Your graphic is now at the top of my sidebar!

    Lesley Xx

  4. Thank you for highlighting this again Glenda. I have told friends still I’m blue in the face that it’s not that I don’t love them & wish them well, but I just don’t respond to chainletters & will immeditately delete them. Hate the ones that say ‘Send this back to me so I can have good luck’ – what a load of old crock

  5. Brilliant, Glenda. Well done for highlighting this. I hate getting these and just delete them straight away.


  6. If I do send an e-mail to someone (which is very rare) I put their address in the BCC box – NO-ONE can see anyone elses e-mail tht way – but the issue here is that should one of these people forward this on – the only address exposed then is mine!!! A lesson for everyone to learn.

    Thanks for highlighting again.

    Paula x x x

  7. Thanks Glenda – I’ve been checking things out on snopes for years then politely sending a ‘this is why this email should not have been forwarded’ message to anyone sending an unwanted email to me – anyone I know, that is. The sending on of a whole list of other people’s email addresses is so patently wrong!

    The only people gaining from such mass emailing are those doing it for the wrong reasons, always.

    Your ‘badge’ is on my blog and my email signature!

  8. i never forward any sort of email without checking it on or first – unless it’s a virus warning, because i already know that will be a hoax! when i do find that other types of email stories are hoaxes, i send the link to the explanation back to the person who sent it to me, some take notice, some don’t 😉

  9. Alexandra says:

    I hate spam arriving in my emails, and have now been subject to spam from mail adult themed problems to ads for low price watches etc. Though I never open these, immediately deleted, it’s is such an annoying problem I’ve even considered scrapping my email address and restarting.
    This is probably where they have started from, as I do get chain mail sent to my inbox too usually some funny or touching story or loving wishes from my dad or sis or friend. If I do sent it on I BCC it, but even this is not ideal as my details could still be forwarded after I send. Thanks for reminding us about this.

  10. billiescraftroom says:

    Hi Glenda

    You have a very good nack of putting your finger right on things. This kinda thing gets me scurrying to my soap box too. I too have well meaning people sending me this stuff and struggle to find the polite way of saying it’s all….(keeping it clean) rubbish! The joke messages are just as bad.

    DH has his own soapbox about teaching people how to use BLIND COPY, if you want to send a message to more than one person.

    People seem to have a blind side when it comes to email details. I’m sure they wouldn’t hand your telephone number around without asking, yet they send on these emails. Your details are sent to their friends, without your knowledge or permission, to people who you don’t know, and then on to another level of strangers and so on.

    GRRR, right there with you on this one!

    Well said, best wishes

    Billie :)

  11. I have been trying to put this on my blog but I’m not sure how to do it. Can someone kindly tell me how to add it to Blogger. Thnk you


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