Started on November 19, 1997

    Do It Again by Steely Dan  
If you have ICQ from Mirabilis, then you have probably received forwarded messages. These can sometimes be delightful, hysterical or (on a few rare occasions) informative. More often they are false rumors, disinformation intended to deceive or mock the intelligence of both the sender and the receiver. What follows is a sample of the good, the bad and the utterly ridiculous.

And now, on to the lies...

 Mirabilis Must Be Stopped!
"Mirabilis is going to start charging!" This is one of the most persistent false rumors. While it is true that Mirabilis may one day want to charge for their service (they are a business after all), if and when that day comes you will hear about it from them, either on their homepage or from a System Message. Think about it for a moment, why would they rely on forwarded messages when they can simply send a message to every account with a press of a button? If they do decide to start charging, they are not going to take a vote first, that is not how a business is run. So when you receive one of these messages, either ignore it or write to the sender and inform them that it is simply not true.

Mirabilis wants to charge for using ICQ. You just hit your forward key and send to all your friends you know. It will record you as protesting against charging, it is an automatic program. Just sending it on, records your no vote.

The only thing that is being "recorded" if you forward this message is that you are a sucker! Cast your "know" vote by deleting the message and writing to the sender. (R1)

It's on Mirabilis Home Page: They are requesting a payment to each message you send. If you want to vote against it, click foward and send this message to everyone. If the number of vote is equal to the number of users (3,000,000), they'll not request the payment. Click foward to pass this message!!! Remember to delete the "who wrote" so you can see all of this message.

Does anyone ever bother to read the Mirabilis homepage? They say in their FAQ that one day they may charge, but are not planning to do so at the moment. Forwarding this message is another vote for stupidity. (R2)

It's in the HP of Mirabilis: They're studying the possibility to charge $ 0.06 for each time you send messages. To vote against this, give FORWARD on this message. If the number of FORWARDS gets to 3.000 millions (that is the number of users, nowadays, they will not go on with this idea). So... VOTE AGAINST!! GIVE FORWARD ON THIS MESSAGE!!!

Six cents per message? Get real. That could add up to a fortune for some of us "power users." But I've been thinking, a lot of people will drop $40 on a game that they get bored with in a couple of weeks, yet scream obscenities at the mention of paying for ICQ even though they use it everyday. Personally, I would pay a reasonable amount, say five cents a day ($18.25/year) in return for a premium ICQ service (like access to more reliable servers). That way they could keep the basic service we get now free, but make a little extra cash to buy some restricted access servers for those of us who are not opposed to paying for the privilege. What do you think? (R3)

Pass this on to everyone to keep ICQ free. YES,they will charge us if we don't ACT NOW. Please VOTE for it. All that you have to do is go to the URL listed below. PLEASE pass this on to everyone in your ICQ list. Just click FORWARD to MULTIPLE reccipients and click on ALL of them :-)

I went to that URL, and at one time there was a section for voting to keep ICQ free (seems to be gone now). It was actually kind of interesting, but useless. Mirabilis is already painfully aware of what will happen if they start to charge for their service at this time. (R4)


They just never stop. See why I put this page up? (R5)

Por favor voten para que el ICQ sea gratis! Solo lo que tienen que hacer es pasar este mensaje a todas las personas que tengan ICQ. Solamente le dan FORWARD. Si no se pasa este mensaje, cobraran por el ICQ!

In case you can't read English, now we have bilingual lies. Por favor no crean una mentira aunque esté escrita en español. (R6)

For every five people you send this message to, Mirabilis will add to your ICQ number 10 "brownie points" which can then be transferred into "ICQ cash" so, when and if billing is introduced, you won't have to pay. Billing is forecast to start in December 1997, at the rate of US$0.50 per hour, which has the ICQ cash equivalent of 5 "brownie points". This is an automatically counted (erase names).

Fifty cents an hour? C'mon people, this one is really out there. At that rate many of us would be playing over $100 a month. Anyone who believes this one has eaten a few too many "organically enhanced" brownies. (R7)

I'm only sending this on cuz if you don't, they REALLY do delete you
please erase all names

If this were true then I would have been deleted a long time ago. FYI, you can't "encode" a program in the message of a text file, at least not one that will be run. More on this when we get to the virus alerts. (R8)


I wish they would survey who the idiots are and delete anyone who forwards a message like this. (R9)

®Mirabilis 1997

Ooooo... I'm scared! And I'm also still here. It bears repeating, if "Mirabilis HQ" wants to send you a message, it will come as a system message, probably asking you to look at their homepage for more details. Anything else is NOT from them. (R10)

Dont take this as joke, just recieved this message from icq management : " This is the icq management. You must not ignore this for if u do, u may be deleted from icq network. This is a test to see how many icq uin's are still active. Please respond to this by forward this message to everyone on your list of uin's.

You're right, this is not joke. Jokes are funny, this is just a bore. And since when does Mirabilis refer to themselves as "icq management" or use "u" instead of "you?" Need I say more? (R11)

There are some existing ICQ security loopholes. Do not activate your ICQ on 22 Sep, doing so could crush your system!
This is not a rumour, it is a real warning from Mirabilis!
Please forward this message to all on your list.

I had my system running all day on September 22, and it didn't get crushed... what a surprise. Isn't it obvious that this is a false rumor? I guess not, because I got it from many people. It is the equivalent of yelling FIRE in a crowded theater, and when you forward it you are not doing anyone a favor, you are just becoming a part of the problem. (R12)

Hey Guys, This is no joke..DO NOT RUN ICQ on the 12th or the 31st of OCTOBER There is a major malfunction that will shut down your computer and wipe out your hard drive. Please forward this message to all on your contact list and delete the __wrote so that the full message goes round. This ISNT A JOKE as Mirabilis has posted it.

I guess some people never learn, do they? After surviving the Sept 22 scare, you would think this message wouldn't get far, but it was spread all over the net. It really amazes me how gullible some people are. (R13)

 Fighting Spam With Spam
I'm not the only one who is getting tired of receiving these warnings about Mirabilis. There have been many messages sent out that try to enlighten the users of ICQ about all the false rumors being spread. They seem to fall on deaf ears. Here are a few samples.

Let's try a new one and a true one for a change! Please send the following URL to all your friends. ICQ at this point is not planning to charge for ICQ and here is there statement saying so : Just press forward, forward to all your contacts and kill the ugly rumors! Be sure to remove the user wrote part.

The ugly rumors just don't want to die, they seem to have a life of their own. (sigh)

IMPORTANT: Recieved from the CEO of Mirabilis via ICQ user: "We have no intention of charging a fee for the service we provide. This is a malicious rumour intended to interrupt the service we provide." For further proof from Mirabilis itself, check out this URL: Please forward this message to everyone you know immediately!

I've been in a chat with a tech at ICQ who has said the same thing. With all the competing paging services on the web, it would be suicide for them to start charging at this point, and they know it. I get the feeling that ICQ's rivals may in fact be starting some of these lies, but don't quote me on that, I don't want to start yet another unsubstantiated rumor. *smile*

If you never want to receive a chain letter again we must abolish them. This includes virus info-shit, etc. To do this we have to make everyone on ICQ aware of the problem at hand. Thus, your job is to forward this message to everyone on your user list. If you receive this message more than once, you know that your job is done.
Thank you. Staff at ICQ

Staff at ICQ, eh? I doubt that. While I agree with the sentiments of this message, forwarding it will have little effect on the problem. And if you receive it more than once, you've probably contributed to the problem.

There is a page on the ICQ site saying that all these virus warnings are a bunch of hooey, apparently being spawned by ICQ's competitors in the hope that ICQ users will stop using ICQ. A study by the Association of Shareware Professionals shows that 98+% of all viruses are distributed ON DISKS, not online. Play it safe, but don't let yourself get spooked - and pass this message on.

I've also heard this. Most viruses are spread in shrink-wrapped, store bought packages. In fact, the only virus I have come across "in the wild" was on a preformatted disk, which is why I always reformat them before using them. (That was your free tip o' the day.) If you get any forwards where icq is threatening to charge, please forward them back to the sender with this address. There is no reward system used by icq nor do they intend to change this system. There are no plans to charge for this service. A little intelligence goes a long way. Please erase the names and forward on to any concerned friends...

Well put. One of the few true messages that has ever been forwarded to me. A little intelligence would go a long way, if people would just use it. So often I hear "But I'm just passing along what I was sent." That is no excuse for acting brain dead. Think before you hit the forward button. 90% of the messages are obviously false, so write to the person who sent it and let them know that you don't appreciate being spammed with what amounts to a lie. I've written to a number of people on my ICQ list, and in some cases it seems to be having an effect.

ICQ just sent me a letter, and Mirabilis is NOT going to be charging for ICQ, and there arent any viruses being passed, Its all a hoax. Most of those messages you are recieving arent even from Mirabilis. They are started by some bored moron, who spends way too much time on the web!!! Forward this one, but delete the other stupid rumors. 'cause thats all they are, is Rumors!!!


I personally do not make mass messaging, but I am so sick and tired of receiving messages "to forward another message for a petition so ICQ will not charge, and that every time we forward it will count as a vote." Hey..that is crap!!! Someone is enjoying this!!!! If you want to find out the truth, before you hit the forward button, go to Mirabilis and find out for yourselves. You can start by visiting

Some people really do enjoy making other people look foolish. I cringe when I get some of these messages from otherwise intelligent people. You don't need a degree in Computer Science to see that these are false rumors, just a little common sense. By forwarding the message, you are telling everyone on your list that you are another victim of a cruel hoax. Don't be a sucker, think people!!!

This is the message on the ICQ send message to deal on one of ICQ Staffs account. I thought it might interest everyone that is sending out the newest forward message about being terminated if the message is not sent to everyone on your list........... WE DO NOT SEND MESSAGES ABOUT THE SYSTEM THROUGH USERS. IF WE WANT TO SAY SOMETHING, YOU'LL GET A SYSTEM MESSAGE *AND* WE WILL POST IT ON OUR WEB SITE.

UPDATE: So who DOES start all these false messages? Well, our crack investigative team has just discovered the true origin of the ICQ rumors... space aliens. Specifically, the "Little Grays." Their plan is to clog the Internet with mindless drivel and thus prevent it from ever achieving its full potential. We have also found a high correlation between UFO sightings and the sudden appearance of thousands of AOL disks in area mailboxes. We believe the Little Grays may have seized control of AOL and made it part of their fiendish plot. We'll know more when the investigation is completed, but that will have to wait until after we finish watching this week's episode of the X-Files. The Truth Is Out There... just don't expect to find it in a forwarded ICQ message.

The ICQ homepage, says no charges are being considered at this time. If any fee will be charged we will get a 30 day advanced notice. Forward this message to stop the rumors. DELETE THE NAMES ON THE TOP PLEASE

That's what it says. Go look for yourself if you don't believe me.

FORWARD THIS TO EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST!!! As of November 5th, 1997, anyone making false claims about Mirabils or ICQ will be fined. Mirabilis has no intention of discontinuing service to anyone, nor do they plan on charging for service. Anyone sending out false messages claiming this, causing undo panic, or forwarding such messages will be severely fined.

Oh, how I wish this one were true! If Mirabilis could find a way to collect the fines they would be bigger than Microsoft. Unfortunately, it will never happen. Still, I did get a chuckle out of it.

 Warning! Danger! Turn Back Will Robinson!
Next up are my personal favorites, the dreaded virus alerts. Before getting to them, let's have a brief lesson on what a virus is. Simply put, a computer virus is a program that, WHEN EXECUTED, will attempt to make copies of itself in other files so that it can spread. Note that I said "WHEN EXECUTED". This is important because the program code (ie. instructions) in a virus must be allowed to run before it can do anything. For example, I could write a small program right here:

10 PRINT "This is a line of code."
20 END

Gee, nothing happened, did it? That is because this code was only displayed on your screen, not executed by your computer. To make it run, I would have to send it to you as an executable program, such as an EXE, COM, BAT or SHS file, and then you would have to launch it just as you do any other program. Merely seeing the code will not do anything unless it is given the opportunity to run. That is why you can not be harmed by a virus sent in a text message or picture. Text and pictures are data to be displayed, not executed. I can't stress this enough. To get a virus from a plain text e-mail message, it would have to be attached to the e-mail as an executable file, and then you would have to go the extra step of actually launching the attachment. The point is, don't "run" an executable file that you get from an unknown source, or for that matter, from a known source if you are not sure that it is free of any virus. It is a very good idea to run a virus scan on any file you get from the net before running it. And stop worrying about getting a virus from just reading an e-mail, viewing a picture or adding someone to your ICQ list, but do be careful about running any program that is sent to you.

One important note about "e-mail viruses": What I've said applies to plain text messages, not to documents such as MS Word files. These files could contain "macro-viruses" capable of spreading to other Word files. So if you receive a Word doc from an unknown source, treat it with the same care as you would an executable file.

UPDATE: For additional info about viruses and executable files, please see The Importance of File Extensions.

'Nuff said? I hope so. Okay, class dismissed, let's move on to the fun stuff.

WARNING: Do not accept a file from somebody called "VirusDist." his file is called "BadVirus.Exe" It is a VIRUS!!! Please forward this to everyone on your list! DO NOT GO THERE...FORWARD THIS TO EVERYONE...HE WILL REQUEST A CHAT WITH YOU.... REMOVE THE NAMES FROM THE TOP OF THIS MESSAGE SO THE WHOLE MESSAGE GETS OUT TO EVERYONE

Well, DUH! If you accept and run a file called "BadVirus.exe" from someone called "VirusDist," then you are too stupid to own a computer and should stick to something safer like stamp collecting (try not to swallow the stamps when you lick them). (R14)

Matt11 is sending a file called Beeper, this is actually a virus RussianMirror.482 it will trash your hard disk do not accept it. HIS UIN# is 1033855, his name is Matt Tidwell, from Birmingham AL, his email is, or .com, i cant remember. so look out!
------------------This is a mass message sent to me please foward it---------

Personally I think Mr. Tidwell is doing the net a service by knocking off some of the idiots who would run a file from someone they don't know. Way to go, Matt.

It is sad that some people will only learn through harsh experience. Just as most children only learn of the dangers of playing with fire after getting burnt, many newbies will learn about the risk of running programs from strangers after one of them turns out to be carrying a virus or back door.

If you get any file with Deeyenda in the subject delete it immediately! This file is spreading quickly and will destroy your computer. It's called the Deeyenda Maddrick virus and this warning was sent out by the FCC. Please pass this on! thanks

The FCC is sending out virus warnings? Maybe Deeyenda is being spread over the airwaves. BTW, there is a virus called "Deeyenda Maddick." If you want a good chuckle, slowly read that name out loud. The end of... hee hee. (R16)

There is a virus know-as "picture.gif", this virus is extremely dangerous, because it may be under a different name. do not accept a file from someone on icq unless it's extremely trustworthy! forward this to EVERYONE on your list, QUICKLY! it's VERY DANGEROUS!

It is not dangerous as long as it has a ".gif" extension since that is not an executable file format. You would have to rename it as "picture.exe" and then run it before anything could possibly happen. (R17)

A few hours ago, someone opened an E-mail that had the subject of "" Within secs, of opening it, a window appeared and began displaying all files that were being deleted. The user shut down the computer, but it was too late. The virus wiped all out, incuding the Microsoft Anti Virus along with F-Prot AVS. Neither detected it. Be careful and please forward this to everyone.

Yeah, right. The only thing that is going to get deleted "within secs" is the name of the next person who forwards a message like this to me. Let's go over this one more time. You could get an attached file called "" that could do just about any nasty thing to your system... within seconds of RUNNING it. But that rumor warns against opening an e-mail... that is the false part. Unless you have some weird e-mail client that automatically runs attached files (I've never seen one that does), it is safe to open any normal plain text or HTML e-mail. Just be wary of attached executable files. (R18)

The following UIN numbers have been sending viruses through ICQ....please put them on the ignore list....1369727, 1370520, 1033855, &1066545.......please forward this message to other users by pushing the forward button at the bottom of this box....

Does anyone really keep track of these ICQ numbers? Maybe "Unsolved Mysteries" can start running them in a ticker on the bottom of the screen, updated live as a service to Internet ICQ users everywhere. I can hear it now, Robert Stack deadpanning, "If YOU are contacted by 1369727, don't accept a file called..." (R19)

Updated list of UINs of the people who are sending viruses: 140467 - 412499 - 586212 - 943633 - 950380 - 1033855 - 1066545 - 1369727 - 1370520 - 1188542 - 2005002 - 2599671 Pleasse pass this on by hitting the forward button

So, are you writing these down? Me neither, so please stop sending them.

UPDATE: I heard from one of the people on this list, seems like a very cool person who has had to put up with a lot of grief because someone started a false rumor about him. So the next time you see one of these warning messages, you might want to look at the UINs very carefully... you could find your UIN on it. And even if you don't, do you really want to victimize innocent people?

I have found a disturbing page on the web..if someone named SandMan asks you to check out his page DO NOT! It is at This page hacks into your C:/ drive. DO NOT GO THERE...FORWARD THIS TO EVERYONE...HE WILL REQUEST A CHAT WITH YOU.... REMOVE THE NAMES FROM THE TOP OF THIS MESSAGE SO THE WHOLE MESSAGE GETS OUT TO EVERY

Of course the first thing I did was go to that page. A few MIDIs, some links and not much else. One thing is certain, my "C:/ drive" is just fine. The only thing getting hacked here is the crediblity of the people who forward messages like this.

I should point out that occasionally a security flaw is found in various browsers. While "evil hacker web pages" are more myth than fact, almost anything is possible where browser or e-mail client bugs are concerned. I strongly advise you to use up-to-date versions of your browser, e-mail reader and ICQ. The following sites link to many of the currently available patches: Windows Internet Patches and WinFiles.Com. Users of Eudrora Pro should check here for security updates:

Having pointed out that, while rare, a web site could exploit a bug in a browser, I would also like to demonstrate how some people are tricked into believing that a web site is accessing their hard drive. One of the oldest tricks is using a form request to display the contents of a hard drive. When you click on one of the buttons below you will see a listing of your C: drive. Note: only YOU are seeing it, no information is actually being passed over the net to me or anyone else. But with a few "enhancements" it can be made to appear that all the files on your hard drive are being erased. Go ahead and try it (if you dare *g*) and then hit the "back" button.
Looked convincing, didn't it? It is tricks like this that have fooled many people into believing that their hard drive was being "looked at" by a web site. But except in the case of a browser bug, the contents of your hard drive are protected from rouge Java applets and malicious HTML code.

UPDATE (10/22/98): It is getting increasingly difficult to make any pronouncements regarding security. Lately for every rule there seems to be a security bug, either in a browser or an e-mail client. In this case I just tried a CGI script that can in fact read the file names in any of your hard drive directories. Another script is capable of reading your cookies. Neither script can directly write or delete any files, but until Netscape and Microsoft get around to patching the holes, be aware that this problem does exist.

This is a message from the ICQ staff. We've noticed that a user with the nickname FLASH and the UIN#943633 is taking advantage of a security hole in ICQ to send users that add him a dangerous virus. Please do not add him to your list!..He cannot be deleted from the directory because he is hiding behind a firewall. ***PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO EVERY

I'm sure the ICQ staff have nothing better to do than send absurd messages. I love the part about not being able to delete him, seeing as how the "directory" that he would be deleted from is on Mirabilis' end, not behind FLASH's firewall. (R22)

Okay, this is really important. the Klown is back. for those of you who don't know Warlock, he is a hacker. and a scary one at that. accept nothing from him. he is wanted by the FBI for hacking crimes. if you see him in a chat, LEAVE IMMEDIATELY and inform the webmaster for that room. it is of the utmost importance that you forward this to everyone on your list. he is extremely dangerous.

Okay, this is really important... I don't care. Do you have any clue how many "Warlocks" there are on the net? I counted 18 just on ICQ. So you think I'm going to report every Warlock on the net? The only "Klown" I'm going to avoid is the next one who forwards a message like this. (R23)

Do not use the lastest version of Internet Explorer because it can check if you are using pirated software and send the info to Microsoft without you knowing it....Then you can get into trouble....Do tell your friends about it because someone have already been caught..... please forward to all your friends........

I love this one, it is *almost* believable. Shades of "Big Brother Bill Is Watching You." The problem is, in the process of looking for pirated software they would have to look at your personal files, which would be a clear violation of your privacy, thus opening Microsoft up to a massive class action lawsuit. Kinda makes me wish it were true, I'd love a piece of Brother Bill's pie.

This has been one of the more controversial rumors. I've received several dozen e-mails with just about every conceivable point of view. Here's the final verdict: While it is possible to check to see which programs are in your system registry, it would be exceedingly difficult to determine if they are pirated and almost impossible for Microsoft or anyone else to do something about it. Consider this example. You buy a MS product on CD and install it but never send in the registration card (thus saving a few trees from becoming junk mail). Then you "lend" the CD to your best friend and they install it. Now how is MS going to know which of you is the pirate? Granted, there are other scenarios where MS might be able to determine that the software is likely to be pirated, but then how are they going to know for sure who the pirate is? An IP address doesn't tell them much unless your ISP gives them additional information, which most won't do without a court order. Any info you volunteer on their site could be false, so they aren't likely to try to get a search warrant based on that. So relax... or if you are really paranoid, just don't pirate software.

 Final Thoughts
Well, if you've made it this far I would like to thank you for listening to my little rants about forwarded messages. As I hope you have seen, virtually all the warnings are false, sometimes obviously so. So why do these rumors keep getting circulated? Some say it is because many people are new to the net and computers and don't know better. That would explain some of the messages, but not all. Common sense alone is enough to realize that many of the messages can't be true, and are an insult to the intelligence of the people who receive them.

So what can we do about this little annoyance? Well, I've found that writing back to the people who forward the messages and explaining why they are false usually helps... but not always. There are some people who don't take criticism well, even when it is given diplomatically. In that case, asking them to stop forwarding all messages is the next step. And if that doesn't work, the ICQ Ignore List can be the final solution, though I've never had to use it.

There is one other thing you could try. Send them this URL and ask them to read it. While there will always be new users to ICQ and the net who haven't been around long enough to be familiar with all the hoax messages, as a growing number of people get wise to these nasty pranks there is hope for some relief. Already a "localized effect" has been seen when someone forwards this URL to the people on their list. Along with other rumor busting sites on the web, I hope to contribute to the enlightenment of my fellow netizens. If each of you who read this page join the effort to spread the truth then we will eventually make a difference and help ICQ see its potential as a powerful communications tool.

Thanks for visiting. If you have a few minutes, please take a look around the rest of my site by clicking on the My Homepage link. You can learn a little about me or watch the sunset over Biscayne Bay. If you or someone you know is thinking about creating a personal or business web site, stop by my professional services site for examples of my work and comments from my past clients. And, of course anytime you want to see the latest rumors, just head on over the the Update Page.

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