Viewpoint: Cell Phone and Internet Hoaxes

Last week, Seven on Your Side was inundated by people who had received e-mailed warnings against women going to Wal-Mart on a particular night because of a supposed gang initiation in which three women would be shot. 
We checked it out and did a story. This particular hoax started in Tennessee back in 2005 and has made the rounds all over the country since then.
 
This was the second internet false warning to hit the Pine Belt this year…the other one was a false Amber Alert.  Those were just the ones viral and wide-spread enough to be addressed on the news.  We get similar mass e-mailings all the time despite our filtering systems.
Most are harmless.  Some are cute or warm and fuzzy.  Some patriotic.  Some are really far out.
 
My point is, take the old adage that you can’t believe everything you read or hear and multiply it many times over when it comes to the internet. 
There are websites you can go to in order to check the veracity of these urban legends that make the rounds.  Remember the internet is basically unregulated.  People can make up stuff and put on it at will, and many do. 
Others who surf and send as a pastime have huge mailing lists that get added to exponentially as others send them out.  A lot of it is harmless and enjoyable.  So have fun.  But if it is a warning of some sort, be skeptical. 
See if anything shows up on the traditional media, where we have to check and double check our sources - both with what we broadcast and publish on our websites.
 
I’m Jim Cameron, let us hear from you.
Email Jim Cameron at jcameron@wdam.com