Fake News: Can We Not Forward Everything?

According to Quartz, nearly 37% of WhatsApp forwarded messages are either scam or are meant to scare people for fun. 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 rumours and fake news that can destroy someone’s life.

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 offence 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.

Fake News: Can We Not Forward Everything? - GeekyMinds

Although fake news or rumours are surprisingly easy to recognize, somehow we manage to miss the cue. Maybe the following points will help you:

Desperation

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 Offers

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 that golden rule?

We covered how social engineering can destroy you. Clicking on those links will make you a victim of a phishing attack.

Related: What is Social Engineering?

Absolute Nonsense

Some of these messages 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. They contain phrases like – “if you do not forward this something bad will happen to you“. It is the 21st century, come on, such statements are 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 always validate the information before making a decision on your hands that can destroy the life of the person or have a grave impact on the nation.

Spread Joy, Not Rumors

WhatsApp has recently launched a TV campaign called “Spread Joy, Not Rumors” to spread awareness about the topic. You can watch the full advertisement here.

It is needless to say how these fake news has 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

Is it your responsibility too?

Of course!

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 techsavvy, it is your responsibility to make them understand the issue.

Spread the right message!