An Internet hoax is generally a deliberate attempt to deceive users into believing that some threat to Internet safety is true. It is a similar idea to April Fool jokes being played on people. In some cases, there have been hoax virus warnings telling users to delete certain important files on their system that have been affected by a non-existent virus. Deleting these files will cause later problems with the system. Some hoaxes are very simple while others are extremely sophisticated. The more elaborate hoaxes falsify information or change important documentation in the hope that this will convince the unwitting user that the hoax is genuine.
Many internet hoaxes are e-mail messages which the user is encouraged to forward to everyone they know. The messages they contain are generally untrue, but sometimes they do refer to true situations, such as the desire of a dying child to build up some kind of unusual collection untrue. Some of sympathy messages describe a real situation, but it’s often one that happened years ago and has long since been resolved.
Hoax messages often try to get you to supply some personal information and also try to get you to pass them on to everyone you know. Many of them rely on our natural desire to do something to help others.
E-mail chain letters are often mentioned along with hoax messages because they have the same purpose as the hoax messages but use a slightly different method of persuading you to pass them on. Chain letters usually offer good luck or money if you pass them on, or threaten bad luck if you don’t. Those that ask you to send money are usually illegal, but they’re all a nuisance.
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