Goodtimes virus

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Warnings about a computer virus named "Goodtimes" began being passed around between internet users in 1994. The Goodtimes virus was supposedly transmitted via an email bearing the subject header "Goodtimes," hence the virus' name, and the warning recommended deleting any such email unread.

The Goodtimes Virus warning was a hoax, however; there was never any such virus, and indeed at the time when the warning first appeared it was not technically feasable to write a computer virus that could transmit itself automatically via email. At least, not a computer virus that depended solely upon the computer for transmission. The Goodtimes virus warning was itself viral, in a sense; it urged the recipient to forward copies of itself to all of his or her aquaintances, preying upon vulnerabilities in the human psyche to replicate itself. Some email servers were actually crashed by the sheer volume of Goodtimes virus warnings being forwarded by users throughout 1995.

Developments in mail systems (without sufficient thought as to the security implications) made viruses that indeed propagate themselves via email possible. Notable examples include the Melissa virus and the Anna Kournikova virus.

The term for a self-replicating concept such as this is a meme. Chain letters are an example of a similar type of meme. Self-replicating hoaxes similar to the Goodtimes virus warning remain common on the Internet, and some have been observed to evolve over time as some recipients modify details before transmitting the memes to others.