Hardly any technology or industry has seen such a tremendous growth and popularity as internet and social media. But now, the cancerous spread of social media has raised its ugly head. Recently, misuse of whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter and other popular platforms of social media and internet, by spreading false information, has taken human lives. Rumours of child lifters have reportedly taken about thirty lives across India.

Many companies and organisations reprimand their employees for wasting working hours on social media. But at the same time, these companies use the same platforms for marketing, publicity, sales and even to instruct employees. Now official orders are given through whatsapp messages. Invitation is sent through social media. Well, nothing wrong in it.

But, it has also become easy to spread news, rumours and propaganda through social media. Just a click and message, picture or video is forwarded to hundreds of users. One tweet can reach to millions of followers. A post on Facebook page can be read and shared by millions. And interestingly, unlike traditional modes of communication, no cost is involved in use of these platforms. Anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer with internet connection can do it in a split of second.

There are various categories of social media users. Some people are spreader of information while others are consumers. Spreaders create and spread information/misinformation to fulfil their purpose. These purposes may be political, religious, business-related or professional.

Consumers use the information. They sometimes consume them without verifying authenticity. They also forward them. Here comes ‘webkoof’, a person who believes whatever comes on Internet as true. He not only believes in such content but also spreads it enthusiastically. And sometimes webkoof also takes action on it. Mostly such webkoof – bewakoof who is easily mislead by online content – is responsible for making the misinformation viral.

There are hundreds of messages being circulated painting someone as corrupt or anti-Hindu or anti-Muslim. Someone is being laughed at and the other is being worshipped. Some community is declared good, while the other as bad. Morphed images and videos with such content have done irreparable damage to our society.

Sometimes in such bombardment of messages, innocent person is declared culprit for a crime on social media. Webkoof people get emotionally charged and take law and order in own hands. Mobs come out on streets to punish the culprit – without waiting for any judicial procedure. It seems a webkoof becomes very patriotic on social media and the adrenaline rush turns into violence. Webkoof has urgency to act but no patience to double check authenticity of the messages. Persons using smartphones, with the latest features of 21st century, resorting to such medieval barbaric methods of violence, is perhaps the most contradictory situation.

Are we webkoof? Should we drift along with the rumours? Can’t we see how this scenario is decaying our social fabric? There is a need to understand that no community, country or society develops or deteriorates in a short period of five to ten years. Therefore, let’s not be carried away by any provocation. Let’s not act like webkoof.

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