Aug 10 2008

FAQ: My friend forwarded a hoax email to everyone. What can I do to help my duped friend?

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Many — perhaps “most” — duped users don’t want to face up to their humiliation. They’d rather leave their friends & family in the dark with the wool pulled over their eyes. People who get duped by a hoax will often feel a strong desire to avoid further embarrassment. Your friend may seek to rationalize why he/she won’t ‘fess up.

It takes a strong ego to publicly admit a mistake. It takes a major effort to say “I got hoodwinked” in a follow-up email. However, you can use the tactics of persuasion theory to help your friend overcome embarrassment. Send back the following reply:

You got duped by a hoax and you gave bad info to your friends & family. It happens to a lot of Internet users, so don’t feel bad about it. But please don’t leave your friends & family in the dark! They trust you, so you need to find the strength to tell them you got hoodwinked by a hoax. If you don’t find the strength to do it, then you are pulling the wool over their eyes. You need to do the right thing. Send a follow-up email to everyone right now while you’re sitting in front of the computer.

Please don’t hit the “reply to all” button when you send this email. Use only the “reply” button. You can learn a lot about someone’s character when you give them a chance to self-correct. If they ‘fess up to their mistake, great! If they won’t acknowledge it … hmmm.

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