Mindless shares and fake forwards


‘A herd of giraffes is walking majestically to the diving board. One by one the giraffes pull off acrobatic dive into the swimming pool.’ An awesome video going viral on social media with the claim that it is a real show in Australia! However, it is not a real show, but computer graphics, an award winning animated video. Sample this widely shared photograph of an elephant carrying a lion cub with its trunk and a lioness walking by the side .The picture goes with the back-story of the elephant coming to the rescue of the cub in harsh Sahara desert. Fantastic!  Animals forgetting animosity in the times of adversity! However, the photo is not real, but a doctored image.


Tall claims, fake videos and photos, but absolutely harmless! However, there are many manipulated stories, videos and pictures being forwarded on WhatsApp and circulated on social media platforms that can be dangerous. There have been instances when fake forwards, rumours and hate rhetoric led to riots and mob lynchings. The problem is if a post suits our ideology, we want to believe it, won’t think twice before pressing the forward button.


In fact, there is an industry backed by political parties churning out fake messages. Political parties create and spread messages to suit their agenda, to influence people and sway elections. A 2019 MIT study states that one out of eight images shared in political groups in India can be termed as misinformation The fact is history is distorted, facts are twisted, stories are planted, news is manipulated, pictures are morphed and images are used out of context for furthering political agenda. Many quotes credited to Chankya, ancient India’s master-strategist and adviser to Chandra Gupta Maurya, on social media are not his. A viral quote on the impact of Coronavirus on Indian economy is being falsely attributed to Ratan Tata, “2020 is the year to survive, not to make profits….” Ratan Tata had to take to twitter to deny.


Sometimes one can understand agenda behind a post, but is baffling why poets and writers have become targets of fake forwards. Many second rate poems, nowhere near the work of Gulzar are being attributed to the veteran poet. He has written ‘Adetein bhi Ajeeb hoti hain’ but Gulzar says he would certainly not write ‘Aurtein bhi Ajeeb hoti hain’ which has gone viral under his name. Recently the celebrated Punjabi poet Amrita Pritam, too, became a target of her fakes going viral. The poems which are too simplistic to fit into oeuvre of Amrita Pritam, neither having her diction nor her vision, are being celebrated as hers on social media. Pranksters have spared no one, not even genius like Ghalib, Iqbal and Shakespeare.



Millions of people in India today are hooked on to social media and messaging service WhatsApp for their daily dose of news, views and entertainment. However, thanks to mindless shares, forwards and re-tweets, social media has turned into a black-hole of unchecked, unverified news. The staggering number of disembodied messages and videos from unknown sources keep doing rounds of social media platforms and credulous WhatsApp circuits like headless chickens. Indeed it is nearly impossible to sift truth from lies and distinguish credible facts from misinformation.


(Published in timeofIndia.indiatimes.com on October 4 , 2020)

27 Replies to “Mindless shares and fake forwards”

  1. Mommy Il share with a Netflix documentary on this.

    It’s about social media experts who worry about the monster that has been created and impact it has already had. Including the US elections.

  2. Rama at one stage or the other all of us have been victims and innocently forward some such fake piece to utter embarrassment. The joy of receiving info is now routed through confirmation/ non confirmation by Google. Your timely comments raise this issue which doesn’t show any sign of resolve.

    1. Absolutely Vidula, we have all been gullible, believed in fake information and forwarded too. We need to be exercising restraint, google check before pressing the forward button but then not so easy .

  3. Really this is a very serious issue in the current situation affecting the adverse impact on the society but I don’t think there is some solid solution to stop all these without the interference of the govt….
    I appreciate yr selection on the hot and current topics of society…
    Well written.

  4. Rama ,your article has definitely sent an alert to each one of us who are so used to receiving and mindlessly forwarding messages on WhatsApp. The solution to the problem is nowhere in sight as people are getting more addicted to it in the present scenario..Very well written article.

    1. Thank you so much Mrs Dhawan. Always a pleasure to read your comments. True , we are all hooked on to social media, especially WhatsApp… tend to believe the posts that we get and also forward when we like a message….neither we know the origin nor the authenticity. You are right there seems to be hardly any solution in sight.

  5. Rama it’s absolutely true!! Many times these fake posts & comments become so judgemental that they adversely effect innocent vulnerable youngsters!! This mindless system needs serious checks & balances.

    1. True Neelam, not the the young minds, but even we get swayed away by the information that we keep consuming, whether true or false. Undoubtedly social media has become a black-hole of unverified, unchecked information. Definitely needs some sort of regulation and accountability.

  6. These days the political parties have their paid writers who spread hate views. These messages spread like wild fire shared by the mindless people. The social media is doing more harm than good.
    Lately many messages are going viral about the prevention, spread and treatment of Covid 19. which are attributed to some or the other doctor to make these look more authentic. Most of them are just trash and confuse the common people.

    1. Absolutely Mrs Rahi. Every party has a separate IT cell for social media. All kinds of fake news, doctored images are being circulated for political gains. You are right there have been studies which confirm that fake news travels faster than the truth.
      true , the pandemic has further added to infodemics regarding Covid 19. All sorts of cures are going viral on social media, most of these are trash to be junked.

  7. Dear Rama,nice and very appropriate article.You have beautifully expressed the views of all sensible people.All this deprives you of the sense of innocent belief.You start dis believing everything.Send me the article shared by your son on American elections.Thanks and keep it up.

    1. Thank you so much ma’am . It is matter of pride for me that you read the article, just the way I used to feel elated to get your compliment in school.

      Yes ma’am,it is indeed sad that we start disbelieving everything… in fact , there is no credibility.
      Ma’am , it is a web film that my son was referring to. I shall tell him to send me the link . loving regards ma’am.

  8. Very well scripted article Rama. The issue is serious and alarming having adverse implications. At times we are so much carried away that we mindlessly forward the messages. When there is no solution is in sight we should refrain ourselves from doing so. Well done n keep it up

    1. Thank you so much Uma for your encouragement.I like your teacher-like response- well worded with a clear message to exercise restraint in forwarding messages.

  9. Very well written & eye opener article. Ppl get temporary pleasure in these videos & all such material. Most of the channels some of them of high repute r showing these kind of videos. But we can’t blame media alone . Ppl also want to watch them. Full of illusions but give temporary happiness. That’s what life has become Fake. Mediums r not bad like Facebook, whts app Tv . It up to us how we channelise our energy through them . For few ppl it’s fake unreal but for others fun sake . One can take them in lighter vein & ignore them

    1. Thanks Romila. You have given a sound piece of advice: Social media is good, but how we use it depends upon us . However; social media posts do have impact on the users. Most people are gullible , not able to distinguish between true and false.

  10. Well penned Ramaji and I think sensible or gullible we all have become victims of mindless sharing. We all are getting pushed into the social media web from where we are unable to untangle ourselves. Actually people want to create some buzz around certain topics, videos so this kind of mindless sharing goes on. You have given all of us a food for thought but along with that you could suggest some ways to separate the wheat from the chaff ie truth from the fake.

    1. Well said Preeti. Difficult to separate reality from fake but then, we can be cautious in pressing the forward button .Also, I have found Google guru has the answer.There are fact finding agencies and you will be surprised to get details of a viral post on google.

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