Technology has impacted people’s lives in massive ways. Today, social media platforms have become a place where an individual finds his voice and can express himself for who he is. Somewhere in between, technology has set the stage for troublemakers who love to spread rumour and fake news that can destroy someone’s life. According to Quartz, nearly 37% of WhatsApp forwarded messages are either scam or is meant to scare people for fun. Either knowingly or unknowingly, we are responsible for it, too
Identifying Fake News
“Forward this message to 10 more people….”
“Check out these amazing deals on….”
“Do not pick up if you receive a call from this number….”
“Do not leave tomorrow…”
If you receive Good Morning messages at any time of the day and get wished for occasions you never celebrate, chances are some of these snippets look very familiar to you.
There was a time when people used to deface currency and hope that it will someday circulate back to its origin. In fact, it is a punishable offense and we do not support it. If you take a closer look, people have not changed much. They have just found a much easier and faster way to get their message, whatever it may be, delivered across the globe with just a simple click.
Although fake news or rumours are surprisingly easy to recognise, somehow we manage to miss the cue. Maybe the following points will help you:
- Spread – As discussed above, the core intention behind these rumours and fake news is to reach more and more people which in turn makes them “famous”. These messages always end with something like forward this message to other groups and contacts.
- Unbelievable Offer – We all know in this day and age, nothing comes easy. So when we get messages, bearing the name of popular e-commerce websites, that offer too-good-to-be-true deals, why do we forget the golden rule? We covered how social engineering can destroy you. Clicking on those links will make you a victim of a phishing attack. You can read the article here.
- Absolute Nonsense – Some of these message are nothing but, well, plain nonsense. Although we are technologically advanced, we somehow lose the capability to Google the validity of the information before hitting the forward button. Take some time to think about it clearly and cross-check before spreading it, it is not that difficult.
- Playing with Psychology – These messages usually have a tone of warning or danger that numbs your mind. These messages contain the words like if you do not forward this something bad will happen to you. It is 21st century, come on, it is not logical and cannot be changed by forwarding a message.
- Conspiracy – Sometimes rumours are directed at people or a group of people for any personal grudge or political reasons. Without going into the details of it, we advise you to validate the information before taking the decision on your hands that can destroy the person or have a grave impact on the nation.
Spread Joy, Not Rumours
WhatsApp has recently launched a TV campaign called “Spread Joy, Not Rumours” to spread awareness about the topic. You can watch the full advertisement here.
It is needless to say how these fake news have caused problems in the past. Don’t believe me, just check the news.
Prior to this campaign, WhatsApp introduced a feature that marked forwarded messages. WhatsApp is working on stopping this issue once and for all.
Read WhatsApp’s guide on how to stay safe here.
Is it your responsibility too?
If it can affect you, it is your right and responsibility to make sure that people you love and people in general stay safe. All it takes is one Google search and it is not difficult. Moreover, you should always take time to think before spreading the message. If you think it is harmless, you are wrong. Every piece of misinformation can harm somebody and you as well.
Statistics show that elderly people are more likely to believe such news. Being young and tech savvy, it is your responsibility to make them understand the issue.
Spread the right message!