‘Whats-App’   Forwards May Be Many Years Old  

By B Someswar Rao

‘Forwarded as received’ say many WhatsApp forwards. A friend prides in writing at the end “from one of my friends in a group” ad if that is any more informative than the automatic ‘forwarded’ that is put at the start of the post by WApp itself. Both disclaimers mean the same –  one a single word and the other eight words – mean the same thing and do not absolve the forwarder of responsibility of the information being correct or true.

A few days after I forwarded to many the story of a 126-year -old man of Varanasi i got a query from a recipient about the veracity of the message. The WApp  video showed an  Adhaar card where the date of birth, when the card is zoomed, is shown as August 8, 1886 which makes him 136 years old today and not 126. Was the message 10 years old?

I did not doubt the veracity of the message as there was a photograph oh the swami receiving an award from President Ramnath Kovind who was in the post just before Ms Draupadi Mutlu who was sworn in only this year. Google showed that yoga guru Swami Shivanan-da of Varanasi died at the age of 75 in 1963 when neither Modi nor Kovind were in power at the Centre. The photo of the Swami was also different.  And Kovind was not the President in 1963 even if the title was awarded just before his death.  The Congress which was in power before Modi normally gave such awards to known socialites and not  unknown great achievers.

So WApp  forwards  are  not always reliable or he was a different Shivananda (which is quite a common name among monks).bWhatsApp itself started in February 2009.

Whatever the truth it was wrong to trust a WApp post A girl who was missing from home in 2010 may be shocked to receive a WApp message about the search for her this year, 12 years later when she is a mother.

Forwarded from one person to another a few days after it was removed, it may reach her 12 years later. Just as the word ‘fowarded’ appears at the start  of each forwarded the name of the original sender and date of first posting should also appear automatically at the start. Even when the message is cut and posted to avoid the ‘fiorwarded’ tag. This would also prevent  the plagiarism of an excellent message as being  authored by the person forwarding it. When WApp was first introduced it was misused for spreading rumours and so a ceiling of only five forwards of a message and only one forward of a post that was forwarded many times was introduced later.

WhatsApp should now make name of first sender and first date automatic and compulsory which can be introduced. This information should be made unreadable when a message us forwarded and forwarding of a message should be to an individual phone and not to a group. This may control the misuse of the forwarding  facility, unless the cut and paste facility  is used. 

So one should never take a WhatsApp forward as truth in this age of fake news and rumour mongering.  This is the age of information which is of prime importance. Wrong information can cause a lot of damage. Spreading untruth as truth  is the prime evil of social media and a way out should be found for it. 


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