What's The Harm?


What's The Harm?


So, What's The Harm In Forwarding This Stuff Anyway?

1.  It hurts our Christian witness.  A lie is a lie.  A half truth is a lie.  A so-called white lie is a lie.  If we truly know THE TRUTH Himself, shouldn't that make us truthful?  "...and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." 2 Tim. 4:4   "Therefore, put away lying, 'let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,' for we are members of one another." Eph. 4: 25

2.  It harms REAL people, organizations and companies.  Just ask actress Cindy Williams, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the American Cancer Society, Tommy Hilfiger, the United States Congress or even an average person:

bulletA fellow at MIT by the name of Cindy Williams writes an article about military pay raises vs. civilian pay raises.   A young airman writes a rebuttal letter.  Someone who has not read the original article and does not know what it really says reads the airman's letter and jumps to the conclusion that any woman by the name of Cindy Williams must be the actress of Laverne & Shirley fame.  This person begins an email campaign against actress Williams.  Williams, who says she is very patriotic, is deluged by hate mail and her patriotic reputation ruined.  What's the harm?
bulletThe Make-A-Wish Foundation has been the target of several hoaxes claiming that they will give money to a sick or dying child if people forward email.  They get loads of phone calls from concerned people wanting to verify the message. Paula Van Ness, the President and CEO, says that these hoaxes are a drain on their staff.  "These calls divert our staff and resources from fulfilling existing wishes."  What's the harm?
bulletSeveral clothing companies have been harmed by false rumors of racism.  The latest victim was Tommy Hilfiger.  Emails claimed that he appeared on various talk shows and claimed he did not want minorities wearing his clothing.  Liz Claiborne got the same treatment.  Troop Sport actually went under after persistent rumors by email that they were owned by the KKK.  The owners were Jewish and Korean!   Liz Claiborne, McDonalds and Proctor and Gamble were all claimed to be Satanist companies or Satanist owned and run at one time or another.  The Procter and Gamble rumor was started by an overly ambitious Amway representative in the 1980's.  The rumor was sent to churches and copied and recopied so many times that it was practically unreadable.  Thousands and thousands of church members boycotted P & G over a lie.  What's the harm?
bulletThousands of people were (especially elderly people) frightened years ago over the "Klingerman Virus" rumor.  This rumor claimed that a virus that had already killed people was being mailed to people in an blue envelope (this was pre-9/11) and that the government was keeping it quiet to avoid a panic!  Even after 9/11, when it became quite clear that every little possibility of anthrax letters got national attention, people were still frightened.  One lady in a senior housing area said that although she posted the true information, people did not believe it.  What's the harm?

3.  People you do not know (some of them spammers) are given access to your email address through forwarded email.  Internet Scambusters says, "If a spammer gets a hold of one of those, do you think they won't grab every address in the message?  (We've seen one case in which a message had been forwarded so many times as attachments that it included over 1,100 addresses!)  Internet Scambusters, Issue 41, January 18, 2001.  Hoaxbusters says that some spammers are deliberately starting chain letters and hoaxes to gather email addresses.  What's the harm?

4.  Hoax letters may frighten people.  I've already detailed what happened with the Klingerman Virus hoax.  A similar hoax was started after 9/11 which said that poison was being mailed to people in perfume samples.   Other messages offer scary tales of abductions, kidnappings, robberies and unsafe places.  What's the harm?

5.  You may harm your own computer!  Two messages that began in 2001, asked people to delete files, claiming that the files were actually viruses that anti-virus software could not detect.  Without any proof, without any articles, without a shred of evidence that the message was true, thousands of people did exactly as they were told.  It turned out that the files were necessary Windows system files!  What's the harm?

6.  You could endanger the lives of others.  Some of these forwarded messages contain very bad medical advice.  One message said that coughing during a heart attack could save your life.  It turns out that this is true ONLY with one type of heart attack and it should only be done under medical supervision.  Following the advice in the email could cause death!  What's the harm?


I hope it's crystal clear now that forwarding hoax email is not a harmless past time.  I got started doing this because when I first got on the internet, a Christian lady I knew began forwarding me messages that I knew could not be true.  I began to look up information on the messages, then to send her the true information.  After a few truthful replies, the lady became upset.  She claimed that she didn't believe all that stuff, but that she just sent them on "for fun."  She offered to remove me from her list rather than give up forwarding these hoaxes.

Friends, there is nothing fun or funny about this business of forwarding hoax email.  Check it out before sending it on it's way.  



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This site was last updated 06/07/12