That folks continued to fall for myriad varieties of these leg-pulls was in part attributable to netizens having caught so many references to these non-existent programs that newer versions of the hoax were able to continue building on an already partially-constructed platform of belief. Unless you are e-mailing a copy to a central tabulating point every time something is forwarded on, nothing is being counted, traced, tracked, or any other verb that would result in you getting free cargo pants from the GAP or inspiring an unnamed millionaire to donate just a little bit more towards the care of an injured child.Any “get something free” come-on or “help a sick kid” appeal of this nature which specifies an invisible program is keeping track of who received an e-mail and who it was then sent to is a hoax. With all that said, we can begin looking at the various forms this jape has so far taken.I have just written up an e-mail tracing program that traces everyone to whom this message is forwarded to. Forward this to everyone you know and if it reaches 1000 people everyone on the list will receive 00 at my expense. Your friend, Bill Gates I would hope that any hoax this badly perpetrated would die a quick death, but events have proved otherwise.This message has been forwarded all over the Internet by people who should know better more often than the Jessica Mydek hoax, proving that if anything appeals to human nature more strongly than altruism, it’s outright greed.In actuality, we were able to trace the spread of the EEVP message back through 994 participants to our MSVSS (Microsoft Virus Seed Server) at the Microsoft VMTF here in Redmond.The E-contest virus distribution vehicle was quite successful!No, you’re not going to be receiving money, merchandise, or free trips from Bill Gates (or anyone else), no matter how many people you forward this message to.
To claim your prize, simply respond to this email with your credit card number and expiration date and I will have someone from my office credit your account with the 00.00 winnings.
And, of course, Bill Gates is laughing all the way to the bank — he got his software tested for free, at your expense.
With an audience this gullible, somebody should write this software. In early 1998 the hoax was updated yet again, with some of its earlier flaws corrected: Microsoft is mentioned by name this time, some detail about the alleged “e-mail tracking program” is provided (it even has a name and acronym now — “BETA” indeed!
And it’s going to be a long, strange journey indeed.
The following message began circulating on the Internet around 21 November 1997: Hello everybody, My name is Bill Gates.
It is not possible, with current technology, to trace every single recipient of a multiply-forwarded mail message on the Internet.