Although there are myriad examples, I am going to concentrate on the ones that most annoy me.
The first real incarnations were those emails we all used to get that said something like:
"Little Maisey was horribly maimed in a freak Goat Milking accident and now can't provide Goat Milk for her family. Microsoft are tracking this email and, every time you forward it, Microsoft will donate $0.99 to a fund to help buy Maisey special goat milking prosthetic arms."
This will normally be accompanied by a picture of Maisey, sans arms, and some other bullshit and will also often contain a list of people who have forwarded it before [read: idiots].
Now, anyone who knows the first thing about computers will know that there is no actual way for Microsoft to track such an email and it is what we in the know call Utter Shit. (Let me know if my tech-y language becomes too much for you.)
This has evolved over the years to utilise whatever is the current social tool of choice.
As bona fide hard copy chain mail is now basically non-existent and even e-chain mail has dwindled to only the 'Pass this on to all the people you love/care about/blah' type, a new trend has appeared.
Yes I am talking about the 'LIKE THIS AND GET A FREE iPAD!!' groups and pages on Facebook.
How many times have you seen something along the lines of this:
|Like this to prove you're retarded!!|
Every time a new, hot gadget comes out (especially if it has an Apple Logo on it) these groups appear like buboes on a plague victim.
It is not the group itself, but the amount of people actually stupid enough to believe it that baffles my mind. There are hundreds of these groups around and all of them have subscribers numbering from a few to tens of thousands.
These groups normally link you out to pages that contain thinly veiled pyramid schemes.
'Accept one of our partner offers, refer 10 friends (who all have to accept and refer ten friends) and you get your iPad/Laptop/iPod.'
This, obviously, makes it prohibitively difficult to get your free iPad. Most people don't have the time, volition or friends to get the 10 referrals. Plus, a lot of people don't want to sign up for the offers because they know that along with the very far fetched chance of actually receiving the aforementioned gadget comes an infinite amount of spam mail.
The other one that really gets me also evolved from e-mails and now infects the world of social media. It goes something like this:
'OMG YOU GUYS, IF PHIL MCKRAKEN ADDS YOU DO!! NOT!! ACCEPT!! IT'S A VIRUS AND IT WILL INFECT YOUR COMPUTER AND EVERYONE ON YOUR FRIENDS LIST! COPY AND REPOST OR THE WORLD WILL END! OMG!!'
|Caps Lock, Check; Fear mongering, Check; Lack of computer knowledge, check.|
Sorry, but viruses just do not work that way.
After replying in the picture above I looked up 'Koobface' and found out it was a real virus and a fairly nasty one. Of course to actually get the virus you needed to follow a link and download a file from some dodgy website. It disguises this download as an Adobe update.
First of all, I imagine going to such a website would make your virus scan scream rape and beg you not to open the page.
Secondly, if you are stupid enough to actually do this, you probably deserve the virus. It's like giving your credit card details to somebody over the phone when the call was unsolicited, or sending Prince Umbooboo that 50k he's asking for so he can get millions out of the country to share with you.
It's Darwinism for the computer age. If you can't spot the proverbial Sabre Tooth Tiger you deserve to be eaten for the betterment of the species.