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MSN Messenger 500,000 Signatures Hoax

Summary:
Email forward claims that MSN will start charging a monthly fee for its Messenger service if 500,000 "signatures" are not received by September 14th, 2005 (Full commentary below.)



Status:
False

Example:(Submitted, August 2005)
FW: Please Read THIS. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT

MSN is planning to take away MSN Messenger by September 14th, 2005. If you want to keep our MSN Messenger free of charge, send this email to everyone you know. It will be used as a petition. Each person you send this to counts as one signature. If this petition gets 500,000 signatures they will keep MSN Messenger. If they do not receive 500,000 votes you will have to pay 5.00 to have Messenger (per month). If you don't care about this then please for everyone's sake help out a little. Thank you for your time and consideration and please help MSN beat their vote PLEASE - Copy and paste this onto a new letter add you name below and send it to EVERYONE you know. I don't want to have to pay for it. Do you???????




Commentary:
The message shown above is just the latest version of an aging hoax. Some person (read moron) has been kind enough to plug in a current date. Otherwise, the hoax is virtually identical to versions that have been circulating since 1998. MSN has not announced plans to start charging for its free MSN Messenger service. Even if the company did consider charging for the service, it certainly would not base its decision on how many times a particular email was forwarded.

The hoax message claims that the message "will be used as a petition" and that every person who receives the message "counts as one signature". However, the message does not say how these "signatures" will be counted. No central collection point for all the "votes" is specified. The implication is that the messages will be somehow reliably tracked over the course of many thousands of successive forwards. Such claims are pure nonsense and not even Microsoft could manage such a feat.

A very similar hoax also targets AOL Instant Message users.

These messages do nothing more than clutter inboxes and waste bandwidth. If you receive one of these emails, please delete it and inform the sender that the message is a hoax.

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen