Urban Legends and Email Hoaxes
Urban legends are false stories that people circulate and claim are true. Many people create urban legends from sources that seem credible, but because urban legends are usually passed from one person to another through emails, websites, or "netlore," the origin of the legend is often impossible to pinpoint.
Netlore can take many different forms, such as rumors, chain letters, petitions, hoaxes, or jokes. Urban legend emails often appear more as warnings than as stories.
People send out chain letters hoping that others will spread them to more and more people. Usually the email will contain emotional content (i.e.,a story about a lost child or the need to raise money for someone who is ill). The email will ask recipients to forward the chain letter to a certain number of people, often threatening that those who don't send it will have bad consequences (i.e., your mother will die if you don't send it to 10 people).
Because netlore emails usually ask the reader to forward the email on to others, the false information continues to spread to other readers.
Before forwarding any surprising emails to others, you should check whether the email is a hoax at the following websites which contain indexes of common hoaxes and chain letters. If it is a hoax, delete the email and do not forward it on to confuse other people.
If you are still unsure about the validity of the email, it is probably best to delete the email instead of forwarding it to other people. Most emails like these are hoaxes.
To learn more about urban legends, visit this website: