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Red Library

The game


What is a hoax?

The word hoax [: houks:] has its origin in English language and it is usually translated as a false and alarming report, canard, sham and joke. Hoaxes are spread via e-mails forwarded directly by users themselves. It is not therefore self-distributed and hidden as viruses Trojan horses.

Why are hoaxes sent? It is simple. Hoaxes just catch our eye by something special we want to tell the others. They appear to be a shocking discovery or an incredible innovation that has not yet been published in any media or they even have been prevented from publication. These were the hoaxes which drew attention to paleontological findings of a giant human skeleton or giant desert spiders which use their mandibles to nibble sleeping soldiers’ limbs. Sometimes they have the form of a warning against current danger – syringes set on seats in public transportation, harmfulness of Pangasius fish meat that is more and more popular in the Czech Republic, drinking Coke and eating Mentos – according to the hoax, it may cause the explosion in one’s stomach. Other hoaxes try to arouse interest with the help of catchy financial offers – Bill Gates and his philanthropic idea that he will share his money on the basis of the number of forwarded e-mails about his wealth.

More dangerous category of hoaxes is created by those of which goal is to bilk users of money for all sorts of goods and services and even for help. The example from the Czech Republic could be reports about collections for the affected residents of flooded villages, media known crime victims, etc. You can find more information about specific forms of hoaxes in the “Examples of released hoaxes” bookmark.

Very close to hoaxes, as to false reports, is so called fake – a pre-arranged video that pretends to be accidentally shot, a picture that is supposedly really taken. The most recent published fakes include the account of T-mobile operator on Twitter or the Playstation Phone form Sony Company.



Why does someone create a hoax?

There are several motives for creating hoaxes. Every author wants to achieve something else. Let us, however, summarise it. The author seeks to:

  • Provoke fear,
  • Disseminate false advice,
  • Manipulate peoples’ opinions,
  • Damage institutions, brands, companies, products,
  • Elicit money,
  • Impress, attract attention,
  • Or just make fun of trusting users.

Examples of released hoaxes

The largest hoax database can be found at www.hoax.cz website, where the most popular and discussed examples are published. Texts are in the original language and they are not corrected for both stylistics and correct spelling.

  • Imposing a fee for the Facebook usage
    Hello, I can tell you that Facebook has announced that from tomorrow 12 Euros per a month will be paid, this message must be forwarded to min. 15 of your contacts and the state will identify you by the nickname “Gold”, so you won’t have to pay. If you don’t believe, try it yourself. Copy and paste even if they are connected… this is serious, information comes… from a reliable and trustworthy source.

  • Imposing a fee for the Facebook usage (version 2)
    Facebook provider considers charging this service from 1. 1. 2011! It won’t be much; it is estimated about 2 dollars per month, which are some 40 Czech crowns per a month. But… There are worldwide petitions created to protest against it.

  • When you drink Coca-Cola, do not eat Mentos
    Last week in Brazil, a little guy died after he ate MENTOS and then he drunk Coca-Cola. A year ago, there was the same case of another boy in Brazil. Please check out the pictures in which you’ll see what happens when you mix Coca-Cola with Mentos. Be careful with Coke!!!

  • Emulsifiers – food additives
    1. Harmless additives
    E 100, 101, 103, 104, 105, 111,121, 122, 126, 130, 132, 140, 151, 152, 160, 162, 163, 170, E 174, 180, 181, 200, 201, 236, 237, 238, 260, 261, 262, 263, 270, 280,281, 282, 290, 300, E 301, 305, 306, 307, 308, 309, 322, 325, 326, 327, 331, 332, 333, 334, 335, 336, 337, 382, E 400, 401, 402, 403, 404, 405, 406, 408, 410, 411, 413, 414, 420, 421, 422, 440, 471, 472, E 473, 474, 475, 480
    2. Suspicious additives
    E 125,141,150,153,171,172,173,240,241,477
    3. Dangerous additives
    E 102,110,120,124
    4. Additives damaging health
    - Damage to intestines: E 220,221,222,223,224
    - Digestive disorders: E 338, 339, 340, 341, 450, 451, 483, 485, 486 - Eiscreme
    - Skin disease: E 230,231,232,233
    - Destruction of B12 vitamin: B12 E 200
    - Cholesterol: E 320,321
    - Nerves sensitivity: E 311,312
    - Scurvy: E 330 – it is the most dangerous one!!! (carcinogenic), it is included in crab meat, BONBEL cheese, canned mushrooms, canned tomatoes
    5. Carcinogenic additives
    E 131, 142, 210, 211, 213, 214, 215, 216, 217, 239
    Attention! E 123 is highly carcinogenic!
    Banned in the USA and Russia!
    Be aware of the following additives in these food products:
    Mamba E 123 /E 110, watch out !
    - Gelatine bears, Harribo – gelatine, smarties; Zotti creamy custard, Iglo fish fingers, Kraft cream, Kraft cream cheese with salami, vanilla pudding E 102/E 110, instant sauces of all kinds.
    Hang out and use!!!
    It considers health of you and your children.
    Avoid using of these additives by correct choice of the products you buy.
    Buyers determine the composition of products.
    Copy this message and forward it to your friends.

  • Microsoft gives money
    Perhaps Microsoft’s social network catch you too this time… And if not, then at least I’m greeting you. So if it works, we will be soon very rich thanks to Bill:
    Hello everyone,
    Please, don’t take this message lightly. Bill Gates has decided to share his wealth. If you ignore this, you may later regret. Microsoft and AOL are now the largest Internet companies and to make sure that Internet Explorer remains the most widely used programme, they have ran an e-mail beta test. When you forward this e-mail to your friends, Microsoft will find it out (if you use Microsoft Windows) in two weeks. You will be paid $ 245 by Microsoft for every person to whom you have sent this e-mail (and this person will be paid too). Microsoft will pay you another $ 243 for each third person that will receive this e-mail. You will be contacted by Microsoft in two weeks to obtain your address and then you will be sent a check. I thought it was bullshit but after two weeks, I received this and forwarded the e-mail below. Microsoft contacted me because of the address and within a few days I received a check for $ 24 800. You have to answer before this event is finished. If anyone can afford it, then it is Bill Gates. These are marketing costs for him. Please forward it to as many people as possible. You will receive a minimum of $ 10 000. Let’s see what happens.

  • Pangasius – is it possible to eat it?
    Do you like fish………? Pangasius fish tastes very good; just take into consideration the conditions in which farming takes place. As each catfish, it suffers from so called freshwater ich, which is a skin parasite that causes heavy losses in the first year and therefore fish take baths in malachite green which is highly carcinogenic. There is a ban of import of this fish in some European countries, so it is solved through the third countries. Everyone should consider this risk; our fish is good and quality. Pangasius is a freshwater fish and it is bred in Mekong delta, which means:
    1) It has less iodine because of freshwater.
    2) Mekong includes all the filth from Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. This is exactly the river collecting all of the mess which was thrown there by the Americans in the Vietnam War and the river also contains the dirt from plants all over Vietnam.
    3) Pangasius isn’t fresh; it has always been imported over a half of the planet.
    DO NOT BUY IT. People, wake up for Christ’s sake. The fish is celebrated in all these articles –it doesn’t have bones, it is healthy, and it is from sea. Farts and squats. Grown in fresh water around Mekong, it very quickly grows to “slaughter size” in hot water – it is an incredibly voracious fish but composition of feeding is a Vietnamese secret. It really doesn’t have typical fish smell – because it is full of water (some super cheap fillets in our stores are filled up to 50% by water). Laboratory results also declare that this fish meat is poor of nutrition – the fish doesn’t have anything in its meat, totally empty calories. And the top of all this is that if it is sold as a fresh fillet – it doesn’t exist, it is made by thawing – fresh Pangasius is not imported here at all. And one last thing – have you seen the quality for such a nefarious money and Vietnam is a long way. So, put on your thinking cap and buy our carp. Bon appétit.
    People, have a look at this page:

  • Take care of your children!
    I highlight the case that has happened recently to my friend while shopping at IKEA. The parents went shopping with their ten years old daughter to IKEA. They suddenly discovered that their daughter wasn’t with them. They waited for a while if she wouldn’t turn in and then they decided to launch a search. The store just closed all the exits and began to look for her. The little girl was discovered in the bathroom, shaved and dressed in other clothes. Probably, it wasn’t the first case that happened there. Therefore, be careful during Christmas shopping!

How to resist?

Defence is simple – just do not believe everything what is published on the Internet. An important part of information taking is, and this applies not only in the case of cyberspace, verification. In the case of Pangasius harmfulness, just enter the word Pangasius and the first link convinces us of the truth - http://ekonomika.idnes.cz/pangasius-zdravi-neuskodi-ukazal-test-dhy-/test.aspx?c=A091030_1281335_test_vem.

But be careful, trickiness of hoaxes lies in their perfect camouflage and good sources and information. Hoaxes confuse users as they contain specific information about location, time and people, which supports its veracity. A natural thing is now a precisely created fake picture (gigantic spiders, a giant skeleton, Pangasius farming).It is sometimes very difficult to discern truth from fiction and not to believe so good looking, well-founded and shocking news.

It is possible to leave a comment at the www.hoax.cz website.

How to respond to a hoax?

If you are not sure whether the message received is a hoax, check one of the hoaxes listed above. It is also possible to enter key words typical for the message into search engines. It is very likely that you will find the same or similar text. In this case, you can delete such a message without any remorse. It is also possible to answer decently only to the sender and warm him/her by this text, that you were sent a hoax message:

The report you have sent to us is a HOAX – a false report that contains false or misleading information! You can find more information about your hoax, database of hoaxes disseminated and links at the http://www.hoax.cz/ website.

Where is the danger?

If we already have trusted a hoax, in the worst case someone will use our own naivety to his/her enrichment. In this case, there is nothing better than to report the matter to the police. In most cases, you are not alone who have trusted, and then a class action comes into consideration.

At best, you will be forwarding nonsense to your friends and vividly depicting the shocking news and the latest discoveries. Anyway, you risk damage to your reputation and a nickname of Baron Munchhausen but do not worry; there will be soon other people who will believe other nonsense. :)

Other dangers are described at the www.hoax.cz website:

Many may perceive hoax spreading as harmless. A closer look, however, shows us the following:

  • Hoax bothers the recipient
    Repeated reception of false messages is uncomfortable for many users, especially during epidemics, when there are the same e-mails received several times during the day.

  • Unnecessary overloading of lines and servers
    Although the performance of servers and interconnection rate increases, it is also important to note that the network load increases too. Higher demands on the network are given not only by higher number of users but also by a growing number of spreading different malware and spam. Today, spam creates over 90% of all e-mail communication! Why to increase the number by useless hoaxes and chain messages? A large number of hoaxes are distributed by users when forwarding message to all addresses. This causes gradual addition of addresses to the message and of course the size of messages is increasing, often up to more than 100 kB. For comparison, a regular e-mail tends to have between 2-6 kB, an e-mail with attached two-page doc document approximately 65 kB. In sum, then their size may reach many MB.

  • Spreading of hoaxes may disclose confidential information
    If a hoax is forwarded by the way indicated above, then there is a huge list of e-mail addresses available for random recipients. Due to avalanche-like spreading of hoaxes, nobody knows who the recipients on other levels are. Mailing list is a heaven for spammers who can then use this list for sending unsolicited e-mails. Some users wonder how spammers could get their address that has been available only for few friends. In fact, it is just enough for the mass e-mail to get into the computer infected with malware that is able to get only addresses and abuse them. Another uncomfortable situation could arise if your address list of clients and business partners came to the competition. In the case of petitions or various fictitious signature actions, it is required to fill in personal information including addresses and identification number. Again, you never know who reads your information and how it is exploited.

  • Hoax may directly damage another person or company
    Some hoaxes or chain messages present a full contact or a phone number to a person that has nothing to do with the message but there are references to him/her in the message. A typical example is a puppies offer where are phone numbers included, where potential owners can call. Often, these are contacts for people who have never had a dog but some has launched the number to the world just out of revenge. In this case, the number is not possible to use anymore. Also the dissemination of false, half-false or distorted information about different companies may cause damage to them. For example, damage to reputation but also unnecessary overloading of customer lines where people, influenced by a hoax, call. The actual requests for help have their downsides. Usually, they are spread after they are not current but people are still responding to listed contacts.

  • Loss of credibility
    Sending a hoax to business partners certainly will not increase your prestige. Scaremongering by governmental officials is not a good sign and the top is when sending a false warning against a virus by an employee of a company that deals with computers and programming (and it really happens).

  • Be aware of auto signatures
    Your signature can make you a hoax author! It has already happened many times that a user forwarded a hoax or a chain e-mail and the e-mail client attached his/her signature with address and phone contact to the text. Such prepared message seems to be directly related to the signatory and the potential consequence has to bear the signatory.