The WhatsApp message warning of an old lady going around kidnapping children in Cheras.

Smartphones may be smart, but are the users as smart?

BEWARE of fake eggs in the market! And be careful when buying food from diners and other outlets selling foodstuff and daily essentials.

The fake eggs are supposedly exported from China, a country said to be very creative in coming out with technology-produced food. The eggs are said to be one of them.

The information is not verified. No known authority has come forward to confirm or deny the existence of those eggs. Consumers are made aware of the eggs via social media. The main problem, if not the only problem, is one of authenticity.

Are there really such fake eggs in the market? If so, how do we spot them? And who is the authority that determines whether these eggs are genuine or fake?

Apparently, one of the fastest ways of spreading this information is using WhatsApp via the smartphone. You need to send it to only one person or to one chat group. Before you know it, half the country has got that information. There is good and bad in this. Good because the consumer is made aware of the existence of the product.

Bad because there is no one with authority to verify whether the information is real or a hoax.

Perhaps the relevant authority should step in and advise the public appropriately. Smartphone users are so trigger happy that they want to be seen to be the first person to disseminate “news”.

The advent of social media has turned every smartphone user into conveyers of news, rumours, gossip, tips, advice and words from God. Hopefully, the recipients have the knowledge to discern which is true and which is not.

I’m sure some of you remember the so-called “breaking news” pertaining to the demise of Datuk Harun Din, the well-known Muslim scholar, and Tan Sri S.M. Salim, the evergreen singer of traditional Malay songs.

Smartphone users had used Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp to spread news that was later denied by family members. The announcements by family members were then made and accepted as reliable and correct.

Another example of a viral piece of information was the picture of a rat treating itself to pastries in a food warmer of a convenience store.

This piece of information that was accompanied by a photograph is indeed useful — and seen as credible.

I would think many times before buying pastries in these places after seeing the picture.

Just after this picture went viral, WhatsApp users got another shock when pictures of a cat eating bits and pieces of chicken on top of a chopping board of a tandoori stall surfaced. Disgusting really!

I’m not sure if the authorities had taken any action against the convenience store and tandoori restaurant. If the authorities have not acted, then something is wrong with them. Or maybe they have not received the information on their smartphones.

On a lighter note, I have a friend who sends out promotional videos of movies on his smartphone.

Last night, Johan — a strong believer in social media — sent out two video clips of movies showing in local cinemas. One was Dangal and the other was The Great Wall. Johan is a movie buff, having spent time as a performing artiste on stage as well. When he makes a recommendation that these movies are to be watched, they are usually spot on.

Lately, he’s been sending song clips taken from YouTube. A very big collection of songs, some of which I’ve never heard before. They are not the usual songs you listen to on the radio, but songs from various countries and genres.

I guess this is what social media is all about — sharing knowledge and information. But one must have some real knowledge to sieve through what is real and what is not, what is genuine and what is nonsense.

Two days ago, a childhood friend, S.M., sent me a WhatsApp message warning me about an old lady going around kidnapping children in Cheras. The message even had a picture of the old lady!

When I asked how come there is no news about the so-called kidnappings in the newspapers and on television, S.M. didn’t reply. Obviously he did what most other smartphone users did — copy and paste!

Smartphones may be smart, but are the users as smart?

Ahmad A Talib is the chairman of Yayasan Salam Malaysia, he can be reached via or via Twitter: @aatpahitmanis

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