What is Hoax?
Everyday of our lives we listen to stories from friends and family that clearly contain an element of falsehood. There are various reasons for these half truths and tall tales. Depending on the intention of the narrator and the understanding of the person receiving this information the stories will receive various labels. Some will be called lies, others will be called deceit, falsehoods, fabrications, dishonesty, treachery or even hoax. These labels are sometimes interchangeable though the choice of label will normally indicate the seriousness and weight that each carries.
A hoax is a playful attempt at deceiving others into believing a something that is known to the person to be untrue. A hoax is not meant to profit the person telling it and neither does it bring serious loss to the recipient of the hoax. Under law there is nothing that prohibits a hoax. This is however subject to the interpretation of the courts and the person who is one the receiving end of the hoax. The term hoax can be interchanged with prank which carries a similar meaning.
For a hoax to be classified as such it will depend on the intent of its creation, how it is propagated and the reaction of the recipients. A hoax that is contained in an official letter can easily be taken as fraud and the person who came up with it would have great difficulty in convincing others that they had no such intention. If a hoax is created to tarnish another person’s name, it cannot be taken as a joke since it will impact the other person’s reputation and could therefore qualify as slander. A hoax will also require the recipient to interpret and understand it as such. If the person receiving it understands the hoax as an attempt at any other kind of deception, then the hoax will be viewed as such.
For these reasons, a hoax is common between peers who understand each other. Today the internet is full of hoaxes on all manner of subjects. There are also a very large number of hoaxes that are sent to people via email each day. You will come across all manner of amazing information that is not supported by logic and has no evidence to support it. The funny thing with most people who are in the hoax business is that once people believe their hoax they will go ahead and tell the truth of the matter and in some cases give a detailed account of how they came up with the hoax, spread it and what people thought about it.
April 1st is almost like the international hoax day. It is called April Fools day and in some countries there is even participation by the government and media which can make it quite interesting. There have been some memorable hoaxes played on people with many planning to get back on the next Fools day. As long as the person on the receiving end of the hoax understands that there was no malice intended, then the falsehood presented qualifies as a hoax.