Monday, July 6, 2009

Untrue email indicators (enhanced)

I found myself writing an enhanced follow-up to a previous blog posting on the indicators that correlate to the likely falsehood of a chain email.  In my experience on the Internet, there are many factors which _negatively correlate_ to the truthfulness of a chain email message (meaning, the presence of one or more of these factors only increases the probability that the content is bunk). I could likely write a program to analyze emails for these factors and identify about 100% of chain emails:
  • Font size > 12 point (less true the larger the font size)
  • Forwarded so many times the original email is 4 or more levels below the most recent email
  • The message forwarded to a number of recipients without the forwarder adding anything substantive as commentary (ratio of forwarded text to added text very high)
  • Ratio of exclamation points to periods.
  • Multiple colored text in the original email
  • Number of recipients in the forwarded email
  • Any urging in the email to 'keep this going' or 'pass this along to everyone you can'
  • Links to snopes in the original email (often not even to the right topic) or an assertion in the original email that it was 'checked on snopes'

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