A hoax is a message that is spread massively, and that contains false or deceitful information. It is distributed through email o text messaging (SMS, Messenger, etc.), and it tends to be credible because it seems to be originated from reliable sources.
Generally, the individual behind a hoax does this with one of the following purposes in mind:
- To obtain email addresses that can be later attacked via spam, virus, or phishing, among others.
- To try to deceive the receiver so this can reveal his/her passwords or accept a file containing malware.
- To confuse the public opinion regarding a specific topic.
Basically, hoaxes contain the following topics:
- Alerts regarding incurable diseases.
- Religious or political messages.
- Solidarity chains.
- Lottery chains.
- Methods to become a millionaire.
- Gifts from large companies.
Guidelines to recognize an Internet hoax:
- Hoaxes lack a publication date and are written in timeless style so they can continue circulating in the web for an extended period of time.
- Hoaxes are anonymous, do not cite other sources as they lack such, and are not signed to avoid legal repercussions.
- Hoaxes contain appealing information for the Internet user in order to get his/her attention. Therefore it will be as successful as the reader’s attention can be.
- Generally, hoaxes request to forward the message whether to avoid bad luck, death or for any other reason. The objective is to get more IP addresses, create databases, create SPAM campaigns or spread unreliable information.
Avoid spreading information that you cannot verify and suggest others to also avoid doing so.