Saturday, March 07, 2009

Please Check Your Facts

I get e-mails like this from time to time. I check them sometimes, but I usually don't because I know that they're bogus. The e-mail reads:


It does not matter if you personally like or dislike Obama. You need to sign this petition and flood his e-mail box with e-mails that tell him that, even if the House passes this bill, he needs to veto it. It is already impossible to live on Social Security alone. If the government gives benefits to 'illegal' aliens who have never contributed, where does that leave those of us who have paid into Social Security all our work ing lives?

As stated below, the Senate voted this week to allow 'illegal' aliens access to Social Security benefits.
Attached is an opportunity to sign a petition that requires citizenship for eligibility to that social service.

Instructions are below. If you don't forward the petition and just stop it, we will lose all these names.

If you do not want to sign it, please just forward it to everyone you know.

Thank you!

To add your name, click on 'forward'. Address it to all of your email correspondents, add your name to the list and send it on.

When the petition hits 1,000, send it to

PETITION for President Obama:

Dear Mr. President:
We, the undersigned, protest the bill that the Senate voted on recently which would allow illegal aliens to access our Social Security. We demand that you and all Congressional representatives require citizenship as a pre-requisite for social services in the United States.

We further demand that there not be any amnesty given to illegal aliens, NO free services, no funding, no payments to and for illegal immigrants

[Then a huge list of dupes who didn't check their facts ensues followed by:]

If you don't forward the petition and just stop it, we will lose all these names. If you do not want to sign it, please just forward it to everyone you know. Thank you! Just think every time that the list hits 1,000 in all the forwarded e-mails, this petition will be sent not just by a thousand petitioners, but rather THOUSANDS of petitioners!

To add your name, click on 'forward'. Address it to all of your email correspondents, add your name and send it on.

1000th signer... please e-mail to:

I checked this at It's usually a good place to start with the understanding that such emails go through changes in wording and various other iterations. Following are some excerpts from the snopes article detailing this particular email and offering some common sense regarding this kind of email petition. I matched up highlights from the excerpts below to statements in the email above in like colors.

This item is a textbook example of the worst aspects of Internet petitions: It treats a non-existent issue, and suggests dealing with it in a largely ineffective manner.

As with all petitions sent via e-mail, the process of circulating them poses a number of problems. Forwarding a petition through e-mail duplicates the names of hundreds and thousands of earlier signatories as each recipient adds his name and then fans out his copy to multiple acquaintances. Moreover, there is no verification or validation process to ensure that completed copies were actually "signed" by the persons listed (rather than having their names added by someone else). As well, any "break" in one branch of the chain caused by recipients' not forwarding the petition along to others means that all the collected signatures unique to that branch will be permanently lost.

The designated target for the receipt of completed petitions - in this case the general comments e-mail address for the White House - is not a good choice. Petitions seeking legislative changes are best addressed to the legislative branch of government (i.e., the members of Congress who represent the petitioners).

The petition's goals are neither clear nor well-articulated.

Regarding not being clear or well-articulated, the article points out that The Departments of Social Security and Social Services are very different bureaucratic entities. I would add that the amnesty issue goes to yet a third area of government: The Department of Immigration. Bills for each of these areas would require different petitions.

The article also states that the issue goes back to an earlier email chain letter with a message based on a false premise. The snopes article for that one details the actual legislative activities behind the false claim that the senate voted to give social security benefits to illegal aliens back in 2006:

In a nutshell, the amendment...wasn't about "giving illegal aliens Social Security benefits"; it was about whether formerly illegal aliens (who had since become legal) should be credited for monies they themselves had paid into the Social Security fund while they were in the U.S. illegally. The senators...did not vote in favor of this proposition; they voted to withdraw the amendment from consideration.

So, please don't be duped by jokers who get their jollies off how many people they can get to propagate their lies by forwarding such emails. Email can be used to draw attention to legitimate online petitions with proper identity verification tools as well as for contacting your representatives directly. However, petitions such as this one and many emails with outrageous claims are entirely bogus. Check your facts before trusting forwards - even from people you otherwise trust. Those loved ones may be honest, but they are honestly duped.

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Blogger jacqueline said...

Those illegal aliens would be recouping social security money that was withheld because they used false identification to get hired. We should award them for breaking the law....again??? They then get a federal refund back by obtaining a TIN from the IRS so they can file a tax return.


Tue Jul 14, 02:04:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Jim Pemberton said...

I don't disagree, but that really has nothing to do with the focus of my post.

Tue Jul 14, 04:49:00 PM GMT-5  

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