Teresa Fidalgo is an urban legend centered around the ghost of a teenager. It’s a fictional story shared through emails, text messages and social media posts. These messages include a warning that claims that people will die if the reader fails to share the story. This urban legend is not true, but it’s loosely based on a real car accident that happened in Portugal.
In 2004, Portuguese film director David Rebordao produced a short film titled
A Curva. The film tells the story of a group driving around in search of a place to film a movie. Along the way, they encounter a young woman named Teresa who claims to have been killed in a car accident on that stretch of highway.
Individuals who searched online for information about Teresa Fidalgo encountered video footage purportedly of the ghost. This footage is actually Rebordao's film, which ends with a note that the police investigating what happened in the film learned that a young woman named Teresa Fidalgo died in 1983. The film director publicly admitted that the story told in his movie is not true.
An urban legend is a fictional story that gets passed on by people who believe the story is true and want to help others avoid danger. Some of the best known urban legends include stories of alligators living in the sewers under New York City and a seizure-inducing video game produced by the U.S. government. Many urban legends are loosely related to actual events, giving them the illusion of truth.
Characteristics of Urban Legends
The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released guidelines to help people identify hoaxes and urban legends. One common trait of a viral hoax is that it may include a message that suggests something tragic will happen to those who ignore it. Other indications of a hoax or urban legend are messages that urge readers to forward them to a certain amount of people. All of these indicators are present in the story of Teresa Fidalgo.
What to Do With Urban Legend Messages
Viral emails and social media posts appear harmless, but they can create problems even when they don't come with malicious intent. They take up a considerable amount of time, especially for people who prefer to check the story's accuracy. Those who forward the messages without verifying the content unwittingly spread fear and uncertainty that can have dangerous consequences.