As the wiki puts it hoax is a deliberate attempt to deceive or trick people into believing or accepting something which the hoaxer (the person or group creating the hoax) knows is false. Internet hoaxes have been around as long as internet itself. While some of them might not be intended to hurt others consciously, in a desperate attempt to gain audience, it may ultimately hurt the sentiments of some. Here is a compilation of top 10 internet hoaxes that have been circulating in Indian electronic media for sometime.
10. Red Number Phone Call Killer
Message: Please, don’t pick any call with 09141 its instant death after the call, 7 people have died already. Please tell others fast, its urgent.
Pls don’t pick any call with 09141 its instant dead tell others
Analysis: The message claimed if the call is picked up from the above mentioned red number, the phone emits high frequency sound waves that cause brain hemorrhage and instantaneous death. This is not only preposterous, but highly improbable as phones don’t possess the technology to emit sound waves of such high frequency. This hoax originated in Kenya and it spread to India and other countries.
9. Sun will Rise Continuously for 36 Hours
Message: Coming October 17, the sun will rise continuously for 36hours (1.5 Days). In this time the US countries will be dark for 1.5 Days. It will convert 3 Days to 2 Big Days. It will happen once in 2400 years. We are very lucky to see it. Don’t miss it!
Analysis: A quick recall of grade-school science will dispel the ridiculous notion that sun will rise continuously for 36 hours. The phenomenon of sun rising and setting is because of earth’s rotation on its axis once every 24 hours. For this myth to take place in actuality, earth’s rotation would have to slow down substantially, which has never happened, let alone in 2400 years. The earth’s rotation can, however, fluctuate depending on tectonic movements, but the result is very miniscule. This absurd hoax originated in India in August-September of 2008 and spread worldwide.
8. Pepsi Contaminated by HIV+ Person
Message: I received a text saying please don’t drink Pepsi. A worker put his blood (HIV +) into some bottles. Be careful.
Analysis: It does sound highly probable that a sociopath might intentionally contaminate a particular food beverage with his HIV infected blood, but according to the scientific research available, AIDS virus can simply not be transmitted that way.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “HIV does not live long outside the body. Even if small amounts of HIV-infected blood or semen was consumed, exposure to the air, heat from cooking, and stomach acid would destroy the virus. Therefore, there is no risk of contracting HIV from eating food.”
According to CDC’s last updated fact sheet in March of 2012, there have been no reported incidences of HIV contaminated food nor HIV transmitted via food products.
7. Contact Lens Melts in Eye
Message: A 21 year old guy had worn a pair of contact lenses during a barbecue party (an event or meal at which food is cooked outdoors over an open grill or fire). While barbecuing he stared at the fire charcoals continuously for 2-3 minutes. After a few minutes, he started to scream for help and moved rapidly, jumping up and down. No one in the party knew why he was doing this. Then he was admitted to the Hospital. The doctor said he’ll be blind permanently because of the contact lenses that he had worn. Co ntact lenses are made by plastics, and the heat from the charcoal melted his contact lenses.
DO NOT WEAR CONTACT LENSES WHERE OVERHEATING AND FLAMES ARE CONCERNED…. OR WHILE COOKING…!
Analysis: There are many versions of this hoax that have circulated via e-mails, twitter, Facebook and SMSes. There are millions of contact lens users worldwide and there have never been any credible news reports claiming so. Eyes are very sensitive and are prone to infections. To prevent infections, contact lenses are sterilized after they are manufactured and in the process they have to resist high temperatures. The melting point of all types of contact lenses is above 90°C. If the temperature does rise to that point, skin of the face might burn out too.
6. Image of Godse Shooting Gandhi
Message: This picture has been doing rounds for some time in social sites. It claims that the photo was taken when Godse shot Gandhi on that fateful day.
Analysis: There are no existing photographs of Gandhi’s assassination. Dramatized scenes of his assassination are based on accounts given by eyewitnesses. The picture above is a shot from a 1963 British movie based on a novel – Nine Hours to Rama. The character of Godse was played by a German actor, Horst Buchholz.
5. Atm Pin Reverse
Message: If you are forced by robbers to withdraw money from an ATM, you can secretly alert police by entering your PIN in reverse.
Analysis: This is an ingenious idea and the technology to make this possible also exists, but no banks have so far attempted to implement it. Joseph Zingher of Chicago advocated this idea back in 1994. He has since been trying to sell his idea to banks in US, with no success. People have suggested that this would fail if the customer’s PIN is same backwards as it is forward, e.g. 1221 or 8888, but Zingher claims this could be avoided by “Inside out pin or Plus-1 pin.”
Even if these problems are sorted out, there is always a chance of human error that is unpreventable. Furthermore, even under normal circumstances people tend to make errors while entering their PIN and in the case of added pressure of a robber pointing a gun, it would only compound his panic. This technology can often time result in false alarms and in case of actual robbery can irritate a robber if a person enters a wrong PIN backwards.
4. Woman Gives Birth to 11 Babies at Once
Message: An Indian woman gave birth to 11 baby boys few days ago. Resources have confirmed that few of them were test tubes babies but it really seems strange at once. It was also rumored that 6 were twins. Doctors were really surprised, shocked and glad to have successful delivery. Well it’s a blessing of God, who gives 11 baby boys to one woman.
Analysis: In the list of multiple births, the maximum are only two instances of nonuplets (nine children born to a single mother at a time) and in both these cases none of the babies survived more than 6 days after birth.
In this message it was claimed that 11 babies were born to a single mother. This hoax was a fabrication of the original news article from a Zambian news and entertainment site. The photograph shown here was taken at a hospital in Surat, Gujarat when the staff was celebrating the birth of 11 babies (from 11 different mothers) on their premises on 11/11/11. All the babies were conceived via in vitro fertilization and their mothers desired to schedule the birth of their babies on that special date.
3. Bootmaker Makes his Daughter IITian
Message: 4 years back, Meera the daughter of a bootmaker Mr. Rajender had successfully qualified for IIT, But at that time Rajender do’nt have enough money to money her fees, he had started working day and night for her in trains, at bus stop etc. And after four years of devotion and sacrifice, he had made his daughter an IIT-CS engineer. Right now Meera is placed in Amazon.com with the package of 13 lack p.a.
Analysis: The bad English in the message itself should be an indicator that this is a hoax. This picture circulated on social networking sites like a conflagration. The woman shown in the picture here as Meera Mochi is in fact Varsha Jawalgekar, a women’s rights activist from an organization named India Unheard. The picture of man perpetuated to be Rajender Mochi was ripped from a blog called Anthropologist Wannabe. The word Mochi of course in Hindi means cobbler.
2. Indians Rising in USA
Message: 38% of Doctors in America are Indians. 12% of Scientists in America are Indians. 36% of NASA employees are Indians. 34% of Microsoft employees are Indians. 28% of IBM employees are Indians. 17% of INTEL employees are Indians. 13% of XEROX employees are Indians.
Analysis: This is one of the most circulated hoaxes on the internet. We have had it on forwarded e-mails, Facebook, Twitter, forums and where not. The hoax reached all new levels in 2008 when Minister of State for Human Resource Development Purandeshwari presented the above figures in Rajya Sabha without any substantial evidence to back it up. Both NASA and Microsoft have time and again stated they don’t keep an ethnic headcount. Bill Gates once in an interview estimated number of Indians in the engineering department of his company to be around 20%, but that the overall figure was greatly exaggerated by these messages. NASA workers too have stated that Indians scientist in their organization could be in the 4-5% range. With regards to Indian doctors in US, officially they are estimated to be around 10%.
1. Facebook Shares to Get a Heart Transplant
Message 1: If the little boy gets 1000 likes he can get his heart transplant for free.
Message 2: Plz share….. Heart surgery free of cost for children (0-10 Yrs) Ph : 080-28411500 It might save some1’s life…! Sharing takes a second… in Bangalore INDIA
Analysis: These kinds of messages have circulated since Facebook’s inception. It is completely illogical as to how an unnamed patient of an unnamed medical facility will be a beneficiary of likes and shares on social networks. These are just desperate attempts by miscreants to gain a larger audience. Pictures of patients are used without their family’s consent. This can be quite morally depressing for the patient’s family. The telephone number in the second message is authentic and belongs to Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences of Bangalore. All the services offered by this facility are completely free of cost. The child shown in the picture however is not an actual patient of the institute. The picture of the child was lifted from the Chernobyl Children’s Project International website.