Some time back, I received a Whatsapp forward claiming that a halal-certified restaurant was serving pork. Supporting this claim was an attached snapshot of the evidence: a newspaper article reviewing the restaurant, with the words “marinated pork chunks” helpfully circled in red.
There was only one problem. The restaurant being covered in the article was a different restaurant.
Although all manners of apologies and clarifications came flooding in a few hours later, the damage was done. The slandered restaurant had to waste their time and money clearing up the false allegations, simply because some of us don’t seem to be able to read as well as we can swipe and tap.
Fake news, despite its name, has the potential to do very real, and even irreversible damage. Though we can never eradicate fake news completely, what we can and need to do is exercise our judgment and the discipline not to spread anything we cannot personally verify because the first line of defence against fake news is each and every one of us. A world manipulated or dominated by fake news comes to existence only if we play into the hands of those who generate or benefit from it
As Muslims, I hope we can be the ones to model a discerning attitude towards the wanton spreading of fake news. After all, spreading information that we do not have complete knowledge of is contrary to the teachings of Islam. So if you’re going to preface anything you share or say with “I don’t know how true this is” or if anything remotely similar crosses your mind, take your finger off the share button. Because a word once sent out, takes wing beyond recall.
 Lim, Adrian. “Parliament: Be discerning to question, check and push back, instead of forwarding fake news, says Dr Maliki”. The Straits Times [Singapore] 3 March 2017. URL: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/parliament-be-discerning-to-question-check-and-push-back-instead-of-forwarding-fake-news
 The Holy Qur’an. Al-Hujurat Verse 6.
 Horace. 65 – 8 BC Roman poet: Epistles bk. 1, no. 18, l. 71. URL: http://www.oxfordreference.com/oso/viewentry/10.1093$002facref$002f9780191826719.001.0001$002fq-oro-ed4-00011727
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