The Purpose of Chain Letters and Hoax Messages

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Almost all of us must have received chain letters mostly from friends and relatives. These days however people use the social networking sites to interact with each other more than the e-mails.

Submitted: April 07, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: April 07, 2017



Almost all of us must have received chain letters and twisted message mostly from friends and relatives. These days however people generally use the social networking sites to interact with each other more than the e-mails that was in vast use sometime back and is now mostly confined to business use.

The sender shares those messages with all his or her contacts in good faith. They generally do so in order to support a noble cause or to share what they believe is true and others especially their near and dear ones or members of their group should know about. Such Internet hoax messages are very common and when we discover that a particular message is a hoax or partly true, the worst of all lies, we are a bit disappointed but quickly recover and heed the next we receive until that is debunked too.

While some e-mails, false chain letters and social media posts may have been circulated by individuals just for the sake of fun, the others are initiated on purpose either to discredit a source, to malign someone, to spread viruses or spywares, for marketing purposes, racial profiling or to propagate conspiracy theories etc.

Now what happens? First of all the Internet is an ocean of knowledge and is not fully governed or regulated by the respective governments, agencies or large corporations. You can access it from anywhere in the world and you can literally find whatever you want to know. The search engines such as Google etc. are like crystal balls. They show you amazing things and tell you astonishing stories; all at a click away.

A- In a Court of Law you generally do not tell the jury what you can not prove even if that is true. Why? Because nobody will take that as credible evidence even if they know that it might be true. The issue here is of credibility.

B- In a large grocery store, if you want to select an item from the shelf where there are a number of similar products available carrying different price tags then the choice becomes difficult as the number of options increases. If you try to read the product information given on the product labels then the choice becomes even more difficult. Most of us either buy a product that we have been using, is under promotion or the one that has been recommended by friends or family members. Few dare to try unknown or new products. The issue here is of credibility.

As the world is shrinking and a global version of the market is emerging the center of power is also being converged. The corporations are becoming more powerful and the governments are becoming more secretive. But how can they do that amidst a myriad of information available to all. The conventional media known as the print and electronic media and the limitless Internet are placed far apart on the control continuum.

If you look at the general communication loop it is still the same; sender -> receiver-> and the feedback etc. But in modern times a massive revolution has occurred known as the Internet over which the governments, agencies and the corporations have little control. But on the other hand the human psyche hasn't really changed much. Someone raising a false alarm all the time is likely to be ignored even if he or she tells the truth. The issue here is of credibility.

Now how to discredit a great medium such as the Internet?

It is very simple indeed. See this;

Flood the Internet with hoax messages. Such chain letters, Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter messages will travel across the planet. After being noticed by concerned people (they are very few in numbers, trust me), the hoax shall be debunked. The Internet users will also come to know that what they had read or watched on the Internet and believed it to be true was in fact a lie or a distorted truth which is in fact the worst of all lies.

When this process continues, the users will start believing the information available on the Internet less. They will resort to conventional sources to verify the information such as the television and newspapers etc. Those conventional media are under certain influences while some are fully controlled especially the big ones. They must maintain their credibility hence will avoid reporting something they are not hundred percent sure (Refer to the court case above). They have to be aligned with their respective government's stance on certain issues. They have to show what their readers and viewers like whether completely true or not. They have a cluster of buyers and suppliers like those who give ads and those who buy their goods and services etc.

If you see that the widely believed conspiracy theories circulating on the Internet are debunked, chain letters turn out to be false, Facebook, WhatsApp or Twitter messages were only created by someone as a joke, e-mails received from Nigerian scam artists are fraudulent then your level of trust erodes. You tend to view the Internet with suspicion. You don't believe any information posted on the Internet unless it is subsequently reported, confirmed or verified by conventional media.

That is one of the purposes of sending out false information besides others such as collecting your contact information, gauging the trend about a certain race or nation, racial profiling, marketing and hacking etc. It is very likely that there are professionals hired who act on behalf of certain political parties, governments, agencies or even terrorist organizations, propagating their ideology or defending their clients on certain issues in view of the growing importance and power of the social media. 

In the end you have to analyze it. Before forwarding any chain letter or post, check it out whether it is true or not and also that it is not a half-truth, the worst of all lies. Use Google or any other search engines to verify that what you have received is completely true and NEVER forward chain letters or post on the social networking sites if you are not hundred percent sure of its authenticity.

You are sharing a message and it is your responsibility to make sure the contents are factual in their entirety.

What you receive from friends and forward to your contacts could potentially harm your own credibility and more importantly your FAITH, and you never realize that.


© Copyright 2018 Razi Akber. All rights reserved.

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