Message circulating via social networks and email warns users not to add somebody called Howard Hertzberg to their friend list because it is a virus.
The claims in the message are false. The warning is a hoax. It is just one more in a long line of very similar hoaxes that falsely claim that users can get a computer virus just by adding someone to their contact list. It is not possible for a user’s computer to become infected with a virus in the way described in this hoax message. This message should not be reposted.
Yet another false “virus warning” message is currently moving rapidly around Facebook and Twitter. This variant claims that adding a user called ‘Howard Hertzberg’ to your friend list will infect your computer with a virus. According to the message, the name ‘Howard Hertzberg’ is itself a virus. It claims that even if another person on your friend list adds the name, you will get the virus as well. The warning claims that the information “has been confirmed” by Snopes and Facebook and requests that recipients repost to let others know about the supposed threat.
However, there is no truth whatsoever to this nonsensical warning. Your computer cannot get a virus just because you add a name to your contact list. Any “warning” that makes such a claim is likely to be a hoax. In fact, this supposed virus alert is just one more in a seemingly endless series of absurd hoax messages that claim that adding someone to your friend list can give your computer a virus. Another, virtually identical version of the hoax that is also currently circulating claims that adding “Linda Smith” or “Jason Lee” will infect your computer with a virus:
ATTENTION **ALL FACEBOOK USERS**..DO NOT ADD *LINDA SMITH*,ALSO IF SOMEBODY CALLED *JASON LEE*,ADDS YOU,DON’T ACCEPT..IT IS A VIRUS.TELL EVERYBODY,BECAUSE IF SOMEBODY ON YOUR LIST ADDS THEM,YOU GET THE VIRUS TOO.***COPY AND PASTE AND PLEASE RE POST******THIS HAS BEEN CONFIRMED BY FACEBOOK
And an earlier version featuring “Smartgrrl15”, was also almost identical:
ATTENTION*****: ALL FACEBOOK USERS**********…DO NOT ADD HER!!! IF SOMEBODY CALLED ” SMARTGRRL15″, ADDS YOU, DON’T ACCEPT IT…IT IS A VIRUS. TELL EVERYBODY, BECAUSE IF SOMEBODY ON YOUR LIST ADDS THEM, YOU GET THE VIRUS TOO. COPY AND PASTE AND PLEASE REPOST THIS HAS BEEN CONFIRMED THRU FB…
In fact, versions of these silly virus hoaxes have been sent around continually for years on end. The hoaxes keep spawning new variants as they travel, presumably because pranksters substitute a new name for the supposed “virus” and alter a few other details before reposting on their networks. Earlier versions circulated primarily via messaging services and email and some continue to do so. But the popularity and ease of use of vast social networks like Facebook and Twitter ensure that modern incarnations of the hoaxes spread further, and much more rapidly, than ever before.
The claim in this version of the hoax that the virus has been confirmed by Snopes and Facebook is an outright lie. Neither site has confirmed the existence of such a virus threat. Pranksters tack on such bogus confirmations in the hope of giving their nonsensical claims more credibility.
Uses should also take note that reposting versions that contain a person’s name may well have a negative impact on innocent users. Searches reveal that there are a number of people in the world that share the name ‘”Howard Hertzberg”. Absurd hoaxes such as this could certainly damage the reputation of people who just happen to share the name of the “virus” mentioned in the hoax messages.
If one of these messages is sent to you or posted on your social network, please let the original poster know that the warning is a hoax. And please do not prolong the circulation of such rubbish by reposting it.
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!