Pre-Holiday dinner mission: install LazyTruth

Matt Stempeck of the MIT Media Lab created LazyTruth, a "Gmail gadget that surfaces verified debunks when you receive a chain email." He says:

Each year, we gather around the table with large branches of our family tree. As the night wears on, family updates give way to dramatic retellings of the bizarre email chains you've been forwarded all year. This year, as part of your IT duties, consider inoculating the family machines with LazyTruth. The Chrome extension works right within Gmail to provide summarized debunks of common viral emails. You get fewer forwarded emails, and MIT researchers get to learn how this stuff spreads in the first place.


  1. It’s taken me years but people no longer send those things on to me since I started reply alling with the associated Snopes articles.

    Not that I miss them.

    1. I have an aunt-by-marriage that sent me such emails for a while.  I sent her the snopes articles back.  One day she though she cleverly preemptively sent the chain email with a supporting snopes article.  Unfortunately, she didn’t read the debunk that she sent along before hitting send.  Mysteriously, I didn’t get any more stupid emails from her after that. 

    2. The same thing works on Facebook too, and even better because everybody gets to see the debunk, not just the person who originally sent it.  I was amazed at how fast my feed was cleaned up when I started responding with Snopes articles. 

      1. I was about to ask if there was anything to work on FB. Knowing that this app does, I’ll be using it. {baby snatched by eagle, my ass}

  2. We need a browser-based version for social media. Faceplant in particular. (I won’t touch Gmail.)

  3. My family took some training over the years, but I don’t receive nearly as many hoax emails as I used to. Yay, Snopes! And now, yay, tool that checks Snopes for me.

    1. The moment you offer this on facebook or as an ad-on for Chrome I’ll install. The fewer “nails in cheese at dog parks” and “legalese to inoculate facebook statuses” the better.

      1. Speaking of, have you heard about the status update that inoculates all cheese found in dog parks from Facebook?

  4. It’s a great idea. Now it needs to be made for Internet Exploder (based on personal experience, I’m guessing the percentage of hoax email forwarders who use Chrome is pretty small). 

  5. Indeed. Tho Chrome notebooks may well change this…
    (Gah. Meant to be @ Heartfruit. Fuckin’ Disqus.)

  6. Someone needs to work out how to package this up as a virus, so that you can infect other people’s machines with it. Or someone at Google needs to “accidentally” set this as “default: on.”

    It’s no good adding it to my own computer — anyone who sends me junk like this won’t care what I have to say. But when crazy uncle so-and-so gets an email from his crazy brother so-and-so, whom he trusts, and yet at the bottom of the email there are links to things debunking the email, it might actually have a tiny effect in stopping the spread of crazy.

    Gmail could even release it as a spam-lowering patch (patching the humans who are the spam vectors).

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