Updated 1/7/12: One year later, these bogus warnings are circulating again via Facebook, Twitter, and text message. New variants don't mention anthrax but continue to declare that CNN has reported seven people dead as a result of adulterated Tide detergent samples.
None of this is true:
FWD: Tide detergent sample packages are coming thru the mail do not open or use. 7 people dead already. Please pass it on. IT WAS ON CNN
THIS IS AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: CNN IS REPORTING 7 PEOPLE DIED OPENING TIDE DETERGENT SAMPLES. TELL ALL TO DISGUARD THESE SAMPLES IF THEY COME IN YOUR MAILBX
HI every one who is on face book do not to use ( TIDE DETERGENT) That came In The Mail. It's A DEADLY WEAPON PLEASE DO NOT OPEN IT) PLEASE THROW IT AWAY. do not put it in the garage can in your house put it outside in the garage. Thank you.
Original post, 1/6/11: The "hot" rumor of the moment, baselessly declaring that seven people have died of anthrax poisoning due to contaminated detergent samples received in the mail, has in fact been circulating in one form or another since 2001.
That is to say, it's false and a decade old.
Here are some specimens posted via Facebook, Twitter, and text message late Wednesday night:
IMPORTANT FWD: Anthrax poison in Tide detergent packs coming thru the mail do not open or use. 7 ppl dead already. Plz pass it on!!!
Anthrax Poison in Tide Detergent packs coming thru the mail do not open or use. 7 people dead already. Please pass it on. IT WAS ON CNN
Just got a forward saying "Anthrax poison in Tide detergent packs coming thru the mail. Do not open or use, 7 people dead already. Please pass this on. It was on CNN yesterday." Has anyone else heard this?
I was informed that if you get any Tide samples don't open it. Its contaminated with Anthrax. 7 people have died so far. CNN is reporting don't open any sample of washing powder.
CNN issued no such report (you can search the CNN website here). No legitimate news sources have reported any instances of household products contaminated with anthrax in recent days, weeks, or months.
Procter & Gamble, manufacturer of Tide detergent, first addressed rumors about contaminated Tide samples six months ago via a company message board:
I work for the Tide brand, I can 100% confirm that the text message going around is not true. From time to time people do this kind of thing as a prank, unfortunately there is little we can do other than to share the fact that this is completely unfounded.
Mandy @ Tide, Official Rep
Variants tell the tale
Here's an interesting variant of the same rumor as posted on Facebook just a few days ago:
hey ladies be careful reciving any thing in the mail that you would smell just got a e mail here in florida 7 women have died by smelling free samples recived in the mail
Note that the above version warns against "anything in the mail that you would smell," not just Tide samples. Compare that variant to the following one received via SMS two weeks ago, just before Christmas:
FWD: Hey hun! If you receive any type of free sample in the mail such as perfume, lotions, diapers, etc.throw it away!!!!! Recently seven women have died after inhaling a perfume sample they received in the mail. If you receive anything of that nature, dont even open it! Throw it out immediately!
And finally, compare all of the above to this example, which I received via forwarded email on Dec. 8, 2001, a little over nine years ago:
Seven women have died after smelling a free perfume sample that was mailed to them. The product was poisonous. If you receive free samples in the mail such as lotions, perfumes, diapers etc... throw it away.