Break the Chain They Deserve A Break Today

Created 2/6/2003 (2/6/2003) Another chain letter that promises you can make a difference with just a few clicks of the mouse. If it were only so easy to make a meaningful impact on poverty and hunger... Unfortunately, this one sets off a bevy of warning lights.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

We Americans CAN make a difference!

This Valentine’s Day Mc Donald´s Corporation together with Richmond Technologies - a Brazilian Tech Company- IS inviting all the American community to open their heart to some of the 33 million Brazilian children who face hunger every day, by supporting one of The Hunger Site’s partner charities: Mc Donald’s Second Harvest.

Mc Donald´s will be helping end hunger in Brazil by making a special Valentine’s Day donation in your honor. For every email address you send to this address rich_tech@list.ru Mc Donald’s Corp. will DONATE 1 meal. Thus if you send 50 email addresses, 50 meals will be distributed throughout the poorest Brazilian "favelas". The more email addresses they collect, the bigger the contribution !!

Mc Donald´s is determined to ensure that these kids shall not die from hunger, and with your help, this dream will come true. Send this email to all your email address book, and do not forget to add the address rich_tech@list.ru so Mc Donald’s Corp. can make the contribution.

Remember: We the Americans can make a difference, and now is your chance to make it possible! If you want to help, please do not hesitate. This is our chance to give our hand to those in need. Help Mc Donald´s make it happen.

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

The Hunger Site and Second Harvest are both very real and active hunger-relief campaigns. With each click of a link on thehungersite.org, sponsors donate food to Mercy Corps and America's Second Harvest. However, questions abound about the chain letter above:

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  • Why would a chain letter supposedly sponsored by McDonald's misspell the name of that company?

  • If McDonald's Corporation and The Hunger Site have teamed with a tech company to feed hungry Brazilians, why is neither organization promoting it on their web sites.

  • Why would a "Brazilian Tech Company" use an account from a Russian free e-mail provider (list.ru redirects to mail.ru, a Russian counterpart to Yahoo! and Lycos.) to monitor support of such a corporate-sponsored effort?

  • Why do searches for "Richmond Technology" and "Brazil" fail to turn up anything?

  • What will be done with the addresses collected? Who will have access to them?

No reputable charitable organization uses chain letters to leverage donations. The medium is just too unreliable. They certainly wouldn't make such donations contingent on you submitting other people's e-mail addresses - to do so violates privacy and is considered very bad business.

For years, BreakTheChain.org has warned that e-petitions and other chain letters could be used by unscrupulous folks to "farm" e-mail addresses that can later be used to send unsolicited e-mail or sold to spammers for their mailings. This one appears to be most blatant case of this practice I have seen to date. Break this chain!

What Do You Think?

Category: Armchair Activism
References: None

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