Beware! It can be a hoax!

Google says that nearly half the world’s population uses internet today. This sudden surge of internet has definitely brought in a digital transformation across the globe, however in the last decade it has also given rise to an alarming number of hoaxes which have been spreading like wildfire into the strands of World Wide Web.

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One such hoax which caused commotion across the nation was the Nano-GPS chipped two thousand rupees currency note which the government in power launched after demonetisation in November 2016. Days before the note was actually launched, our family whatsapp groups and facebook timelines started flooding with images of the new denomination along with a message that said “The Rs 2000 currency is designed keeping in mind to eradicate the black money issue. Using state of the art indigenous nano technology, every two thousand rupees currency note is embedded with a NGC (Nano GPS Chip)”. So much was the impact of this viral feed that finally RBI had to intervene to debunk the rumour.

Another such hoax was about “15 days of darkness” in November 2015, which was even propagated by some of our leading news channels. The rumour I believe has surfaced again and this time it’s claiming 15 days of darkness in November 2017 . Phew!

The big question is who starts a hoax?

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Unfortunately, there is no concrete answer to this constantly ringing question. Perhaps there are some malicious pranksters who gain pleasure in the outbreak of preposterous messages creating panic among innocent masses.
Hoaxters may also be some crooked minds who feel a sense of pride to see something they created being clicked by millions of internet users across the globe.
Human psychology can be hysterical! It’s difficult to comprehend how it works.

How to recognise a hoax?

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One of the most common signs of a hoax message is the request to be forwarded. Since the ulterior motive of the initiator is to increase the number of clicks, therefore the message will certainly have the “please forward” appeal in it. One such hilarious (and I’m not being sarcastic) forwards was “UNESCO declares ‘Jana Gana Mana’ the best National Anthem in the world. Please forward to all your fellow Indians and make them proud.” 😀 😀 . Later the UNESCO declared that it doesn’t declare anything!

Many a times a hoax message is a kind of threat that intimidates people forcing them to forward it to their loved ones. Back in July, 2016 a whatsapp message from the commissioner of Delhi was extensively being forwarded appealing to remove all whatsapp profile pictures which supposedly an XYZ militant group was planning to misuse. The message was signed off by some A.K. Mittal along with his phone number.

The number belongs to some Arshad Ali as per true caller and has been reported spam.

Hoax messages often promise to reward on being forwarded. Is there anything more alluring than winning an iphone 7 or a holiday in Hawai? And all what you have to do is forward the ludicrous message to five whatsapp groups or twenty friends! Uggghhh!

Another form of hoax messages are the ones about death. Whist many eminent personalities, movie stars & TV celebrities have been falling victim to such hoax every now and then, the very recent one was of BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav. Apparantly, after Tej Bahadur posted a few videos on social media exposing the poor quality of food in army camps, a picture of another dead jawan (alleging to be Bahadur’s image) with his face half covered surfaced on the internet claiming that Bahadur had been killed. Sadly, the patriotic Indian easily falls prey to such traps and ignorantly aids the rumour mongers.

Hoax messages are spreading everyday in thousands of other forms, however mostly they appeal to our religious sentiments, god fearing values, emotions, greed, curiosity & patriotism.

What can be done?

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“Distrust & caution are the parents of security!” – Benjamin Franklin

Do not act on impulse: Wait & think before you hit that click & forward button. Everything that you see on social media need not be the gospel truth and every message that demands to be forwarded need not bring you good luck.

Crosscheck facts: Ignorance is not always bliss! Crosscheck facts whenever you come across something questionable. A simple google search can go a long way in refuting a fabricated story and cutting the grapevine.

Use your Common Sense: Please use your brains!! You have it, so use it.

P.S. Sharing this article with your friends & family may (or may not ) bring you the love of your life but it will certainly make me happy. 😀 😀

(Ref. indianexpress.com, dnaindia.com, quint.com, outlook, thehindu.com)
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