New Kid, Same Old Crap
(4/11/2002) Ho hum. Young parents, sick kid, corporate sponsors, e-mail tracking, yada yada yada...
Newer versions of this chain come in the form of a .jpg image or a Microsoft Word or PowerPoint attachment with an unrelated - yet emotion-provoking - photo of a baby. The erroneous subject of "Leukaemia" was also added (Leukaemia is a blood cancer, not brain cancer).
Some recipients of the later version must have noticed the curious combination of the photo of an infant with the story about a 10 year-old girl, so even later versions give the child's age as 10 months.
Another version romoves all the names, makes it a third-person request and couples it with a sappy poem.
The letter has also been translated into other languages (such as Spanish) and attributed to different authors. Some versions also tell you where the poor family is supposedly located, but their home nation varies from version to version.
No matter which version of this hoax you've received, the formula is familiar and very tired. Hoaxes like this prey on our desire to help a child and the guilt we'd feel if it was really that easy and we didn't do it. In fact, we're told in later versions that we don't have a heart if we don't forward it on. Well, don't feel guilty - Nothing about this e-mail makes any sense.
AOL and ZDNET are not involved in any kind of fundraiser to save a kid. Given the global reach this letter has had, I would think one of these corporations would have stepped forward to take credit for it, but neither has. Even if they were involved, are we supposed to believe that an e-mail tracking scheme is "the only way they can help?" How bad would these multi-million dollar corporate giants look if they made a small donation contingent on some poorly written e-mail instead of just giving the money outright.
Of course, the most compelling argument against this chain is that e-mail tracking as it's described in this letter is impossible. Even AOL and ZDNET do not have the ability to know how many people you forward a message to. E-mail tracking is an old hoax designed to poke fun at naiive new e-mail users. Break this Chain!