When was the last time you received an email from someone that talked about some important subject and then read, “Forward this to as many people as you can!”? Perhaps it was the email about how telemarketers are going to start flooding your cell phone with solicitations. Maybe it was the one about James Dobson’s (Focus on the Family) petition 2493 to combat an FCC attack on religious broadcasting. Whatever it was, if it tells you to “forward to everyone” it is probably a hoax. But how can you find out?
When you get one of those astounding, unbelievable, “true” stories in email, check it our before you forward it — or just ignore/delete it. But if you think it is worth forwarding on, I encourage you to check it out first. One easy way is to “google” some of the keys words in the message and check out the results. For example, if you google “dobson petition 2493″, you’ll find the top two or three results are articles about this hoax — including one on the Focus on the Family website.
While I find “googling” to usually be the easiest way to track down an urban legend, there are some website’s you can go to that are great places to research the stories you get in email. I’ve listed a couple here and I’m sure I may have missed some. However, if you compare the information in these sites, you should be able to pretty accurately determine the legitimacy of any information you come across (or comes to you) on the Internet. (NOTE: These links will open in new windows/tabs.)
Snopes.com – Urban Legends Reference Pages – This site has its information organized by subject with icons to make browsing easier. There is also a good search feature.
The Inboxer Rebellion – This is a special section of Snopes.com that has the most current information on those email stories you get in your inbox every day.
Truth or Fiction – I really like the way these guys report on stuff. Here you’ll find clear true or false statements as well as some “maybes” or “partially true” explanations.