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UK Government fights Holocaust ban email hoax, Sophos reports

February 2008 by Sophos

IT security and control firm Sophos has reminded internet users of the nuisance of email hoaxes as the British Government announced it is taking unprecedented steps to combat a chain letter that has been widely distributed across the internet.

The "Holocaust Ban" email hoax claims that the Holocaust is no longer going to be studied in UK schools because of fears of offending Muslims. Ed Balls, British Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, yesterday issued a statement to media and embassies worldwide denouncing the email as a hoax.

Part of the chain letter email reads as follows:

’Recently this week, UK removed The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it "offended" the Moslem population which claims it never occurred. This is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it.

This e-mail is intended to reach 40 million people worldwide! Join us and be a link in the memorial chain and help us distribute it around the world.Please send this e-mail to 10 people you know and ask them to continue the memorial chain.’

"It is simply not true that UK schools are banned from teaching about the Holocaust, and anyone forwarding messages like these is unwittingly feeding an urban legend," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "We have seen many reports of this chain letter and it’s clear that this message is not just propagating via traditional email but also via social networking websites like Facebook where people forward nonsense messages to all of their friends without necessarily engaging their brains."

Experts at Sophos note that some variants of the chain letter claim that the teaching ban is at the University of Kentucky rather than the United Kingdom - presumably because of a confusion over the term "UK".

"Hoaxes waste valuable bandwidth, impact staff productivity and can even place email addresses into the wrong hands. They have been a problem for years, but this must be the first time that a government has taken such firm action to debunk one," continued Cluley. "Email spreads like wildfire and forwarding one copy could result in 100 more being sent - break the chain by hitting the delete button, and learn not to believe everything you read in your email."

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