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Forwarding this email could be hazardous to your health!

2009 January 27
by matthew

WARNING! The following article contains EXTREME!!! punctuation and poor attempts at humor.  Viewer discretion is advised.

Terror in your Inbox smacked

While checking my email recently I received a forward with a serious warning about a computer virus attached to an email with the subject line “BEWARE OF : Osama Bin Laden”.

I could tell it was a serious warning due to the use of excessive punctuation:

It  is a virus that opens an Olympic Torch which  ‘burns’ the whole hard disc C of your  computer!!!!

Extreme underlining:

Do not open it! Shut down  your computer immediately!

And of course the proclamation in all caps popular among chain letters and pyramid schemes demanding that I immediately forward this on to everybody in my address book:


But of course the email must be genuine since it included this declaration:

Just  verified this with Snopes and it is REAL

But just to make sure I decided to do a little checking with Google for myself.  So I typed the following into Google: osama

If you’re following along at home you should get something like this:


Basically what that search does is searches the entire Snopes site for the keyword osama.  Rather than searching the entire Internet I have limited my search to only the Snopes web site.

I could have used more keywords but I figured that osama was probably not too common of a term.

Sure enough, osama turned out to be a pretty unique keyword. 


However I have to say that I was surprised to read that Osama bin Laden Owns Snapple and Bert from Sesame Street and Osama bin Laden have some sort of nefarious connection.

Facing the Cold Hard Truth

Imagine my disappointment when actually reading the article I find that Snopes has declared that this story is “Real, but outdated.”:


Snopes goes on to say:

Both trojans were easily detected and removed with updated virus protection software, and neither Osama message is circulating widely or poses much of a threat to PC users any more.

So if you’re running anti-virus software you probably don’t have anything to fret over. You are running anti-virus software right?  So now I checked the email out on the official Snopes web site and found out that I don’t have anything to worry about, right?

Not so fast.

If you browse around the Snopes site for a while you will probably come across The Repository of Lost Legends, or TROLL for short.  If that acronym doesn’t make you suspicious, perhaps the text on the page should:

We created The Repository of Lost Legends (TRoLL for short) for those of you who don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.

An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who writes controversial or inflammatory messages, with the intention of provoking other users into an emotional response.

So does that mean – gasp – that not everything on the Snopes web site is true?

I’ve been beguiled and bamboozled!

I don’t mean to say that Snopes isn’t a great resource – it really is. I use it all the time in fact (usually to check the veracity of emails just like this one). It’s just that Snopes (or any other site for that matter) shouldn’t be your be-all-end-all source for truthful information. 

You can’t turn off your brain and abdicate all responsibility for your actions, no matter who you’re reading or listening to.  Unless it’s something you’re reading on this web site of course (that last statement was said with tongue firmly in cheek).

So the next time you get an email in your inbox that gets you hot under the collar, take the time to do your own due diligence before blindly forwarding it on. 

The time you save could be your own.

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