There is this guy named Williams Yee who has been sending me emails for months now. I don’t know who he is, or where he lives. And the email is always the same! It reads:
I am contacting you in regards to a breach of business loan agreement with a client in your locality. I provided a loan to the company so that they can meet up with their management and operational obligation during the rough economic climate of last year. I provided the company with an emergency loan of $270,500 with a term of 12 months and fixed interest rate of 7.0%. The repayment period has since elapsed but the company has been unable to finalize the repayment of the loan and have only paid $90,000.00 till date.Let me know if this falls under the scope of your practice so that I can provide you with more information on this matter.
At first I just ignored these emails, but now I am troubled. Poor Williams Yee! He needs help! Can’t any “counsel” in this “locality” help Williams Yee as he tries to collect from the “company” that needed his “emergency loan” so that it could “meet up with their management and operational obligation” but now has stiffed him? With so much detail, provided by the unduly trusting yet obviously wealthy Williams, surely there is a “counsel” who would help him right this colossal wrong!
Recently the blog LezGetReal has reminded us of a valuable lesson about the internet that can never be forgotten — namely, that the normal user doesn’t know where content really comes from and whether it can be trusted.
LezGet Real published a blog entitled A Gay Girl In Damascus that purportedly was written by a gay woman in Syria who was dealing with the civil unrest there. The blogger, who wrote under the name Amina Arraf, became a kind of minor sensation when she reported being arrested by Syrian security forces, and real people became involved in trying to investigate her arrest and campaign for her fair treatment. But it turned out that Amina Arraf did not exist. Instead, she was the fictional creation of Tom MacMaster, a 40-year-old student living in Scotland. Then, days later, one of the editors of the LezGetReal blog, who wrote under the name Paula Brooks, also turned out to be a straight man — a 58-year-old Air Force veteran named Bill Graber.
What does it all mean? It means that the internet is a vast cauldron of unvetted stuff of unknown origin, and the careful reader needs to always maintain a healthy skepticism about content. Heart-rending stories can turn out to be hoaxes. Bold assertions of fact may be exposed as falsehoods. Photos can be doctored. And a purported gay woman writing of her ordeal in a faraway, dusty, repressive land can turn out to be a 40-year-old guy in Scotland acting out some curious fantasy before his computer screen and sucking credulous people into his fantasy world.