02414: On Forwarded Messages

Metro Manila Community Quarantine - Day 08

One of the stranger peculiarities of this social media age is the prevalence of messages being forwarded within messenger groups or SMS. I don't quite get the behavior - like what drives people to propagate unverified information because it might be true and thus better to be safe than sorry? Is this a sad offshoot of fatalism or religious belief that we are okay to take just about anything on the word of strangers?

To be fair, the forwarded messages get it partly right a lot of times. When people get their hands on scans of official documents like the initial IATF draft of the community quarantine details and other instances have proven to be helpful in advising the public but have also been drivers for panic-buying and other negative fear-based behaviors. And when I see documents like this make their way to the public, I do consider such messages with a bit more weight.

Along those lines, I honestly think this government is incapable of hiding anything to any significant degree. As soon as people get their hands on official documents that detail policies that may affect family and loved ones, you know someone is going to take photos with their phone and forward that stuff out to the world. Our government has no sense of data confidentiality and can't keep a secret to save its life. Every major move in their efforts to handle this crisis has been telegraphed by official documents being leaked to social media hours before things are actually announced. There's some solace in this fact.

Welcome to Week 2 of quarantine, everyone. Try to keep your heads on straight and attempt to verify anything you receive as a forwarded message. Demand evidence. Don't just accept things on faith or being overly cautious.