#fakenews isn’t just a U.S. thing. And it isn’t just about politics. In India people are putting their health at risk by following spurious advice dispensed on forwards on Whatsapp, the phone-based messaging app.
Here’s one popular hoax making the rounds: an image of a blister pack of pills, warning recipients to avoid certain brands of the pain reliever acetaminophen because “doctors advise that it contains ‘Machupo’ virus, one of the most dangerous viruses in the world, with a high mortality rate.” The Whatsapp forward ends: “I’ve done my part, now it’s your turn … remember that God helps those who help others and themselves!”
Dr. Ranjit Mankeshwar, a professor of preventative medicine in one of Mumbai’s leading medical colleges, says he gets asked about information sourced from Whatsapp frequently.