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Missing Children Hoaxes

Happy President's Day ... here's hoping your president is happy and healthy. Those of you with prime ministers, well, I hope they're doing well too.

A friend forwarded an e-mail message about a little girl who's missing, Ashley Flores. Cute little thing, I mean from the several photos attached to the message, and it could be a real sad story.

But it's not true. Not a word of it. She's not missing, not now and not ever.

It would only take about three minutes (on dial-up, so way faster on broadband) to check it out before forwarding the e-mail on and pulling on a bunch of other heartstrings. In this case, Snopes.com has a couple of pages about little Ashley, this one being pretty definitive. According to Snopes, these cases turn out to be either a child who was missing, but that was years ago and they're found now; or the whole thing was a prank or a misunderstanding, something, but never was true. The Ashley Flores case is most likely the latter.

Sure, maybe if one e-mail could reunite a lost child with her parents, it would be worth it. That's probably why the message got forwarded. But there was no thought involved in this, no confirmation, nothing. I guess it was all part of the "if it's on the Internet, it must be true" mindset that too many people still have. Or maybe we're all supposed to be constantly worried about something, so here's something more to be concerned about.

If it's your own personal child who's missing now, you may write me and ask me to help look for her or pray or give money or whatever. Otherwise, I don't want to hear about any hoax missing children.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 19th, 2007 10:01 pm (UTC)
Got the same message (from, I suspect, the same sender), and just finished sending her the Urban Legends link about the hoax.

The rule of thumb I tell folks is that, if a child is really missing, it'll be all over the evening news. (Or do people put more faith in the net these days? Yikes...)

Feb. 19th, 2007 11:11 pm (UTC)
It would also come from more official sources, such as a police department.

The origin of this particular one is worse because the child in question was never missing. So at the beginning it was just some prank, and this is a very cruel prank because a missing child is probably a parent's worst nightmare. I'm not blaming the sender of our messages for that aspect, of course.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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