Email chains: Check first, click later

by Fred Showker

I received this "email hoax" from an acquaintance the other day, and was more than a little peeved that my private email address had been included in such a mailing.

Unfortunately, many of the people on his list will simply forward to their list, and as the chain grows, all of the email addresses will continue to be embedded in the mailing. So 8 out of 10 Windows users on that list will undoubtedly have a zombie on their machines which will forward all the email addresses to spam harvesters.

Here's the email

> From the L. A. Times
> 1. 40% of all workers in L. A. County
> ( L. A. County has 10.2 million people)are working for cash
> and not paying taxes. This is because they are predominantly
> illegal immigrants working without a green card.
>
> 2. 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.
>
> 3. 75% of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.
>
> 4. Over 2/3 of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal
> alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal , whose births were paid for by taxpayers.
>
> 5. Nearly 35% of all inmates in California detention centers are
> Mexican nationals here illegally
>
> 6. Over 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles County are living in garages.
>
> 7. The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most
> likely illegal aliens from south of the border.
>
> 8. Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties are illegal.
>
> 9. 21 radio stations in L. A. are Spanish speaking.
>
> 10. In L. A. County 5.1 million people speak English, 3
> .9 million speak Spanish.
> (There are 10.2 million people in L. A. County. )
>
> (All 10 of the above are from the Los Angeles Times)
>
> Less than 2% of illegal aliens are picking our crops, but 29% are
> on welfare. Over 70% of the United States' annual population
> growth (and over 90% of California, Florida , and New York) results
> from immigration.
> 29% of inmates in federal prisons are illegal aliens.
>
> We are a bunch of fools for letting this continue
>
> HOW CAN YOU HELP ?
> Send copies of this letter to at least two other people.
> 100 would be even better.

NO THAT'S NOT WHAT TO DO

It took me all of two minutes to check the validity of this email -- bringing me to this LA TIMES article about the email hoax.

HOAX: good, bad, ugly?

I believe the data exists somewhere -- in the LA Times -- or elsewhere... just not in a single article at the same time. And you know the media will ALWAYS deny such information, once it circulates in an email chain. That's why email chains are detested by so many. (Including myself.)

There's no question the data exists. It's just a matter of digging it up. For instance, NPR had an article some time ago that asserted each inmate in the California prison system costs the state $22,000 per year. That figure alone is enough to open your eyes -- particularly when multiplied by the number of inmates. The data exists. The challenge is to bring it into the light of day.

Finding real data

I followed several other 'found' links to assumed reliable sources, and pulled up this informative piece, also in the L.A. TIMES at opinion.latimes.com. It takes the same email hoax and clarifies the data in an attempt to illustrate how the hoax inflated the numbers -- which it did. (Comments to this posting are both entertaining and enlightening!)

I responded to ALL on the "chain" using my SpamCop address:

> Rather than propagaing this internet "email hoax" I took
> two-minutes and pulled up this story :
> http://opinion.latimes.com/opinionla/2007/04/may_day_mythbus.html
>
> It clarifies the points in the hoax.
> However, in doing so -- some rather startling data was verified.
>
> So, instead of just circulating the hoax, why don't you
> extract and digest the 'real' data from that article, and
> circulate THAT. It's evidence enough to achieve the same goal,
> and you can include the link.
>
> Better yet, do diligence and dig into census and other reliable
> data sources and accumulate REAL data and document sources.

And I signed it "not happy"

Email chains just simply smell bad. If it says "send to everyone else" then in all likelihood, it's a chain -- and is also probably either a hoax or grossly inaccurate. Just don't do it. Delete it -- or, if you're interested in the subject of the post, try digging a little to find a hoax-alert, or some real information from reliable sources.

Thanks for reading...

Fred Showker

Fred Showker, Editor, Graphic Design & Publishing

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