Thursday, August 11, 2011

The social aggregation of clunk and junk

Hello, and thank you for reading this letter. There is a starving little boy in XYZ who has no arms, no legs, no parents. This little boy's life could be saved, because for every time you pass this on, a dollar will be donated to the Little Starving Legless Armless Boy from XYZ Fund. Forward this to atleast 10 people so that we get enough money blah blah blah.

How many of us have received this email in the past? I believe it is safely to say all, it was prominent in the olden days of Yahoo when email was a private affair not the thing you would discuss with your friend over the wall. I do not know how effective the campaign was but people did hit forward to the mail. I mean how easy it is to just forward it? Who knows maybe there is a boy in it. We have forwarded many such emails in the past, some people still do.

Sometimes they contain blessing from some God who will curse you if you don't do things etc. But nowadays this forwards have stopped being funny and have turned into serious news forwards. Today morning, as I walked into office I received a email from friend about a very sensitive letter written to the prime minister of India by the editor of the times of India, Mumbai. The contents of the letter were sensitive and maybe true to the fact, they contained the sentiment of many people.

However the main concern was? Why choose the name of the tabloid and the editor? To give it credit. Any campaign needs credit and the name was a credit. So I simply Googled the name of the editor to see if the name held any credit.


This is a snap of what were the top results in the name of the editor. If we observe carefully most of them are  personal blogs and discussion forums carrying the same email forwards text. The news that was in the email is simply and mindlessly published on the forums as quickly as it spread. 

The letter is sensitive and the people will have a tendency to forward it, which is only fair. But this creates a aggregation of the fake news and a cloud of junk which may hide one single authentic link for the source. 

What can be done for it? Obviously there are moral obligations of checking what you post on the blog and forward emails but obviously if it was really to be done, we won't be where we are right now won't we?

What are your views.

P.s. The email circulated was with respect to corruption and India, are they any other email circulated in other regions?