Forwarding Faux Info Is a Step Backward
El Gato has come to the conclusion that David Emery's Web site, urbanlegends.about.com, should be subsidized by the federal government if it ever runs out of cash.El Gato has come to the conclusion that David Emerys Web site, urbanlegends.about.com, which investigates and debunks all of the junky e-mail messages that circulate, should be subsidized by the federal government if it ever runs out of cash. Years ago, when e-mail chains contained faux information, such as the fable that Bill Gates and Walt Disney Jr. were offering free trips to Disneyland to the first 1,000 people who helped test Gates new e-mail tracking system, the Kitty thought that the site was a fun way to debunk the silliness that filled his mailbox. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Spencer realized just how dangerous and damaging such e-mail could really be and noted that the same folks who usually forwarded e-mail about kidney harvesting were now inadvertently perpetuating misinformation and fear about future terrorist attacks.
Certainly, the restaurants, shops and nightclubs in Boston felt the economic sting from the well-meaning, but inaccurate, e-mail messages containing "friend of a friend" warnings that terrorists would strike the city on Sept. 22, 2001. And how many retailers suffered when a similar e-mail warned people across the nation to stay clear of malls last Halloween?