Sunday, October 26, 2008

Misinformation in Forwards

This post is in regard to an email forward that I received that was similar to the one re-posted for educational purposes on What does Obama read?

Perhaps we can stop this now, rather than later. I have been fighting a war against incorrect forwards for quite a while now (well, since 1995 when I first logged onto the Internet).

Forwarding incorrect information is bad. It is a hindrance to the information society that we live in today. Forwarding incorrect information about a person is not only wrong, it is legally dangerous.

When you write information that is incorrect... even by simply forwarding it... it can be considered "publishing." If what you have published is false, you are potentially subject to charges of Libel which is punishable by a cash payment of damages that result from the defamation of character that the person you libeled has suffered.

The claim, earlier in the email thread about "if this is a tru (sic) picture, I think everyone should know about it. If not, and I have offended you I'm sorry, just delete it!" When did we become so complacent in our society that if you receive mis-information you should just delete it? If somebody publishes in your local newspaper/gazette that you are a member of the Ku Klux Klan, would you just throw the newspaper away? (Please note, I'm not equating Muslims to the Ku Klux Klan, but I *am* using the reference to the Ku Klux Klan to illustrate the regard that Muslims are held, unfortunately, by many Americans in my analogy.)

Obviously, the picture shows Barrack Obama carrying a book that is definitely a book about our world "Post America." We are, of course, assuming that the picture has not been edited and that Barrack has at least been thumbing through the book. Has anybody taken a quick look around our world lately? We're not doing so hot. We have the largest debt of any nation in the world. If our energy policy continues as it's current trend, we will be faced with a trade deficit that has never been surpassed by any nation or trade group of nations. The idea that we could be replaced as a superpower is one to be considered. As we have seen in the previous months, the global picture can change quickly. Any official who isn't preparing for the worst instead of glossing things over and making everybody simply feel safe... I don't want near any elected office.

What is false is the claim that Obama is a Muslim with the claim "by a fellow Muslim." This implies Barrack Obama is Muslim. He is not.

One should also read the Snopes information about the book as well. has a good section about this mostly false email. Honestly, after reading the section on Snopes... after I finish my current reading list, I think I might check this book out at the public library.

Should Obama's religion make a difference? Let's leave that question alone. Instead, let's focus on one thing. The information is false. Do you want people sending you lies? ... well ... let's just stop.

Take a pledge today to either only spread your opinion unsupported (and SAY it is unsupported) and written in your words ... or support your opinions with verified facts.

PS: Stop using the To and Cc lines for forwards! Unfortunately... there are definitely some less savory possible implications to people not using your email address on the BCC line when forwarding emails to you and other people that you don't know. For instance, there are several thousand malicious software programs that exist solely to harvest the To and Cc fields and address books from infected computers for use in spam mailing lists. The long story short? Tell your friends to stop putting your email address on the To or Cc lines when sending your information that isn't specifically directed to you (and to which you are not expected to respond). Even better? Tell your friends to stop sending misinformation to you and stop cluttering the email servers of the world with forwards. If you want to share something with a group of people, publish it. I'm doing that here.


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