How to Deal with WhatsApp Messages in Covid-19 Pandemic?

Yesterday, I came across a forwarded message on my WhatsApp. Take a look-

*Group admin is requested to close group for 2 days as police can take action against admin & group members vide section 68, 140 & 188 if anyone even by mistake posts joke on corona. Everyone could be in trouble. Hence I draw the attention of group admin to take necessary steps.*

This message claims that Supreme court of India made an order against sharing of information on social media regarding COVID-19 and if found guilty, WhatsApp admins will be watched by police.

During such pestilence, we must cover our ears along with mouth from masks to avoid such fake messeges. Using some intelligence, we can figure out what’s fake and what’s authentic.

The second part of the message reads-

*Tonight 12 ( midnight) onwards Disaster Management Act has been implemented across the country. According to this update, apart from the Govt department no other citizen is allowed to post any update or share any forward related to Corona virus and it being punishable offence.*

This message talks about the update from a goverment department. Before believing the message, you should ask- Which department? Is it mentioned? I searched some reliable sources to check the authenticity of this messege .

According to *The Times of India* fact check on *April 7, 2020*, the claims came out to be fake. Talking about the Disaster Management Act, 2005, it was invoked amid nationwide lockdown that was announced on 24 March 2020. But the act has no provisions which says only the government, and not the citizens can share COVID-19 updates/information. The Supreme Court, however, do mentions that *”section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005″* provides punishment to a person who makes or circulates a false alarm or warning which may led to panic. Such persons shall be punished with imprisonment that may extend to an year or with fine.

The messege also contained a link :

https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/centre-seeks-sc-direction-that-no-media-should-publish-covid-19-news-without-first-ascertaining-facts-with-govt-154601

To this report on Live law, a simple google search told me that the Fact Check wing of PIB (Press Information Bureau) had also tweeted debunking this false message on 2 April 2020.

This is just an example of one fake messege on WhatsApp. Every second tonnes of fake and misleading information is being shared on the social media. To which, I recommend that before sharing such doubtful, remember this breif saying- “When in doubt, check it out!”

During such situations, you should don’t share anything before you’re sure about it. Every misleading information call for trouble. Don’t create panic during such crucial times.

Right now all the efforts and attention of the government is in containment and mitigation of this pandemic, and the responsibility is on our shoulders to follow the instructions by the authorities and verify the information from a number of sources.