Do you casually ‘Forward’ messages to others when you receive them on your WhatsApp? They could be fake and even dangerous…
Last weekend, I watched a Marathi TV channel running a story on how R K Padmanabhan, Police Commissioner, PCMC, plans to take strong action on those who are using their friends’ or acquaintances’’ photographs to create fake videos and tarnish their image.
I really appreciated his proactive intervention in this issue as there are so many examples in Pune’s educational institutes – schools and colleges – where images of girls are morphed, creating immense pain to the victims. Although this has been happening since the time of the MMS coming into existence, it has worsened now.
This reminded me of the menace of fake WhatsApp messages which created a riot like situation in some parts of our country. Subsequently, mass forwards have been curtailed with a restriction of five forwards permissible now.-
Twice last year, I got a WhatsApp message saying there is a huge congestion on the expressway due to some abnormal situation. I called the emergency number of the expressway, 9823498234 only to be informed that it was a fake message. I was concerned since one of my family members was travelling on both these occasions.
This one message on WhatsApp that I received last fortnight was equally disturbing. The Forward read: `
Important, 4 kidneys available due to death of M Sudhir and his wife (my service colleagues) who met with an accident yesterday. Doctor has declared them brian dead. M Sudhir is B+ and his wife O+. His family wants to donate their kidneys for humanity. Plz circulate. Contct 983xxxx283.
Forward to another group, it could help someone…’’
It so happened that one of my dear friends is in the waiting list of a kidney transplant. This message seemed genuine, but I decided to check out first by calling up the mobile number mentioned there. I got ‘no reply.’ I send a message; there was `no reply.’ I persisted for three days continuously.
Finaly, I got a message from on sms from Dr Sandeep Garg (whose mobile no was referred) stating, `The post related to kidney availability is totally wrong and is circulated by some mischievous person. Pls ignore it.’’
It is very important to check out if such messages are genuine by contacting the number. There have been several instances of fake appeals for blood donations.
Be alert, please don’t mindlessly forward. You owe this to the city as a responsible citizen.
Last year, I received this Forward on WhatsApp apparently from a Child support helpline no 1098, which stated:
‘If you have a function/party at your home and when you see lots of food may get wasted, Pls don’t hesitate to call 1098 (ANYWHERE IN INDIA ONLY) – child helpline. They will come and collect the food…Please circulate this message which can help feed many children. PLEASE DONT BREAK THIS CHAIN, “Helping hands are better than Praying Lips”
Copy n paste takes only few seconds…Or forward it.’’
When I called up the number, again I did not get connected though I tried several times. Then I saw in google this message apparently from the official website which stated: `This is the message on the official website : Child Protection and rights in India, 1098 Child Support
Warning : We understand there is a chain mail circulating that says – one should call up 1098 to pick up left over food after a party etc so that it is not wasted. This is not true. We are India ‘s only and most widespread Children’s phone emergency outreach service (1098) for children in need of care and protection. We do not pick up food or distribute food. This mail was not initiated by us, kindly do not circulate it. Your cooperation is appreciated.
.Another most famous forward, which is still doing the rounds is that: `Unesco declares “Jana Gana Mana” best national anthem. The fake news started in 2008 through email and then caught the UN agency’s attention. “We are aware of several blogs in India reporting this story, but can assure you that Unesco has made no such announcement concerning the anthem of India or any country,” an official told India Today in 2008.
According to a news report by the leading finance e-daily, Moneylife, “… From currency to salt-very little escaped the reach of fake or fabricated news in 2016. Rumours spread from WhatsApp and other social media into the mainstream media.
Institutions such as Unesco and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had to step in and tell us what was true. Even Facebook and Google, two of the worlds biggest internet companies, sat up and took notice.
‘Such news can have widespread reach: India is one of the biggest markets for several social media and communication companies-it has 160 million of WhatsApp’s one billion-plus monthly active users, 148 million Facebook users, and over 22 million Twitter accounts.’’
Make this a resolution for 2019 –Use WhatsApp with extreme responsibility so that there is social harmony and only bonding and friendship!
That's Vinita Deshmukh, Senior journalist and RTI activist who believes in journalism that reflects the views and needs of the common man.
Get Real And Stay Relevant says Vinita,