For all its wonderful uses, social media remains a questionable source of reliable information. The huge amount of user-generated content available online means that rumours, factoids and gossip mingle freely with cat videos and clickbait headlines. Very often, such rumours are harmless. Occasionally, however, they end up misleading or hurting people. In some cases, these myths and misconceptions go viral at monstrous speed, creating alarm, shaping public opinion, and fooling even seasoned Internet users. Here we have compiled five myths that went viral online, and the real facts in each case.
Myth: Following its notebandi exercise, the Indian government launched new nano GPS-enabled notes that allow authorities to track and catch hoarders and scamsters. In addition, the notes use radioactive ink, also for better tracking of large quantities of notes.
Fact: A few months down the road since demonetisation, we know that the above is all bunkum. Inserting GPS chips (that too, with no power source) into currency notes is nearly impossible. And as for the 'radioactive ink' rumour, we can only say that someone's been watching 'The Incredible Hulk' too many times.
Bungle in the jungle
Myth: A mother impala staunchly sacrifices her own life, to give her calves a chance to escape from a family of cheetahs. The photographer who shot this photo goes into depression after the scene.
Fact: Alison Buttigieg, the photographer, says it best: "Seriously, who comes up with this crap?" Dispelling the nonsensical story, Buttigieg revealed that the cheetah kill photo, shot at the Maasai Mara, Kenya, showed a mother cheetah teaching its youngsters how to kill prey. There were no baby impalas involved, neither did Buttigieg go to pieces after clicking the photo. As for the wet-eyed paeans to motherhood, all we can say is that while all moms are wonderful, this story had not an iota of truth in it.
The missing boy who never was
Myth: A Facebook user, Zain Shaikh, claims that his four-year old nephew, Musa, was kidnapped by a family driver in Mumbai. He later claimed that the police had found the car abandoned in the Dadar area, and that his nephew was no more. He even posts images of the boy's 'funeral'.
Fact: As FB users panicked and outraged, a stunned Mumbai police didn't know how to react. They had no records of any such missing complaint in their files. A detailed investigation by the cybercrime cell revealed that 'Zain Shaikh' is likely a Lahore resident, and had cooked up the whole story. And we'll never know why, because the account was deleted as soon as the police started their enquiry.
Myth: A Mumbai man, for whom love clearly knows no financial limits, gifts his lady love a new car covered with Rs.2000 notes for Valentine's Day.
Fact: You can accuse pranksters of many things, but not of being unromantic. This photo was merely a trickster's naughty (or perhaps wishful) imagination at play. The 'notes' are fake and the car belongs to a rental company, which was running a promotion in Pune when the photo was taken.
When terror pings
Myth: Terror network ISIS is using hackers to steal WhatsApp users' display photos, especially those of women, and plans to misuse those photos. Therefore, users should delete their profile photos for about a month for security purposes. This forward purportedly comes from AK Mittal, Commissioner of Delhi.
Fact: You've guessed it: the entire message is fake. It is one of the WhatsApp hoaxes that sound well-meaning, but have no factual or logical basis whatsoever.
The Ford #MythConception
Myth: For a while now, discussion forums and social media sites have perpetuated the notion that Ford cars are expensive in terms of service and maintenance due to stocking/availability issues with spare parts.
Fact: This is yet another 'myth conception' based on hearsay, and doesn't really hold up to the facts. Studies, backed by real user testimonials, clarify that Ford cars are surprisingly affordable to service and maintain, with some of Ford's auto parts actually being the most affordable in the category! The bold Ford invites us to believe in facts, not impressions, and has laid out the facts of the matter for all to see on the Ford Service Promise website.