February 2017

What is a hoax?

A hoax is an email which disseminates misinformation and encourages the recipient to send this false report to his or her friends, relatives, or colleagues.

More and more people are forwarding information received by email without checking whether or not it is accurate. The aim of a hoax is simple:

  • Give its creator the satisfaction of having fooled a lot of people.

These hoaxes have several consequences:

  • Clogging networks by sending a great deal of useless data through the network infrastructure;
  • Misinformation, i.e. causing many people to believe in false notions or spread untrue rumors (also called urban legends);
  • Filling up email inboxes which are already overloaded;
  • Wasting time, both for those who read the emails and for those who pass them along;
  • Tarnishing the image of a person or business;
  • Mistrust: If they receive too many false alarms, network users might not believe in real ones.
Therefore, it is essential to follow certain principles before sending a message out over the Internet.

How can you fight misinformation?

In order to effectively fight against the spread of false information by email, just keep one important point in mind:

Any information received by email which does not include a hyperlink to a website attesting to its accuracy should be considered invalid!

Therefore, any message which contains purported facts but not a link to a reference site should not be sent to others.
When you pass along a piece of information, look for a website which supports your claim.

How can you tell if it's a hoax?

When you receive an email which insists that the information must be sent along (without giving a link to prove its accuracy), you can check the website hoaxbuster (in French) to see if it is in fact a hoax.

If the info that you received isn't there, look for it on popular news sites or by using a search engine.


Les canulars (hoax)
Les canulars (hoax)
I canulari (hoax)
I canulari (hoax)
Fraudes (hoax)
Fraudes (hoax)
This document, titled "Hoaxes," is available under the Creative Commons license. Any copy, reuse, or modification of the content should be sufficiently credited to CCM (ccm.net).