What I hate is that these things come in waves. In Wave #1, I get the thing forwarded several times from people I barely know (my friends do not forward, and after a few repeats of the Forwarding Lecture, my family members stopped forwarding to me); this happens fairly early in the thing’s existence, sometimes so early that the virus warning/UL/hoax is not on Snopes yet. In each case, I reply with a brief debunking and a link to Snopes if one is available. What gets me about Wave #1 people is that these are people who are online all the time, people who have been online forever - how can they not understand why we do not forward things?
Wave #2 happens a week or two later. Once again, patient debunking, this time always with a link. I am most gentle with these people, who tend to be online newbies. I explain about Snopes and Inboxer Rebellion and everything else, and many times Wave #2 people will become non-forwarders.
And then we have Wave #3. Wave #3 consists of just one person. And she actually is my friend. And yet she forwards things - and we are talking about things that have been in circulation for years. I recently got a warning about the Happy virus from her. Yesterday she sent me the 9-0-# phone thing, which I first saw at least two years ago. I have patiently debunked her forwards (which always go to an incredible list of people, including everyone who works where she works). I have explained to her politely why I do not forward. Nothing helps. It drives me nuts. She is a nice person, aside from this habit, so I don’t want to be mean, but - I hear from her, at minimum, several times every week. At least 95% of her mail to me is forwarded, and about 75% of that is scams, hoaxes, false virus warnings, or UL. Another 20% is humor, although it has long since stopped being funny to me, since I have already gotten it at least a dozen times and usually first saw it sometime in the mid-1990s. The remainder is glurge.
I tell you, I cringe when I see this woman’s name in my inbox.
But I have a solution. I propose that, in future versions of mail programs, the ‘forward’ button be disabled when the thing is installed. To enable it, the user should have to go through a few screens and type in a code from the company’s website. Anyone who can do that probably won’t misuse the forward button, which frankly should not be used all that often anyway. I suspect that having to cut and paste and so forth would really cut down on inveterate forwarding habits.