Recently I received several fake fact messages, and what was more interesting is the people forwarding these messages were highly educated. Today it is not uncommon to receive messages that say If we do not forward it then a decade of bad luck, or we wont ever live happily, or maybe even we’d get murdered that midnight itself by a ghost. After some thought, I realised that such things were extremely uncommon before the advent of the internet. Before the Internet existed, people relied on written sources of information. They used to read newspapers for information. Books and journals were published to demonstrate a point. These used to take effort and time to make, and rarely contained false information, because hardly anyone would take so much pain and effort to spread false messages.
Today, there’s social media which can instantly popularise anything. People can just create fake information and post it, which will spread like fire in the jungle. Many mischievous groups make such false information and spread it. This makes filtering out relevant info and verifying it’s authenticity even more difficult. Very often the posts made are deliberately vague, specifying little to no information about it’s source and thus untraceable. For example, If we share a post saying if we won’t share it then we’ll die, and then the post is shared again by our friend and we are again a recipient, then should we share again? There’s an implicit ambiguity and since the source isn’t authentic, we can’t trace it to ask or raise any questions.
Though, in many cases, people wouldn’t find anything harmful in spreading these messages, many a times, a malicious hacker (or a cracker) can use this to their advantage. They can spread links and cause innocent and unwary users fall into the trap of phishing, or be a pawn in the original aim of the cracker. The consequences are innumerable all the while the user wouldn’t even be aware of what all happened. Also not only from a technical perspective, but also political advantage can be taken of this situation.
People should understand, that they are being exploited whenever they see such a message and should not promote it any further. It is the best to stay well informed. It not only protects us from crackers, but also makes it a lot more easier to find real facts.