It’s common in Brunei Darussalam to receive the latest news or photos from your friends through social media, especially through messaging services such as WhatsApp. More often than not, the majority of these messages tend to be false and unfortunately will spread like wildfire when people forward them to everyone they know.
What is a hoax message?
A hoax message is a false story that has been broadcast through social media; often through WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes it’s also distributed through email and SMS. The purpose of creating a hoax message is to trick people to pass it on to other people. This could then lead to mass panic or sometimes contain embarrassing information or a picture.
An example of a hoax message is:
Your telephone number has been selected to receive $500,000 in a lucky draw. To claim your prize, please email your full name and phone number to this email address.
This kind of hoax message is designed to trick you into sending your personal information such a bank account details, credit card numbers or passwords.
Could you get in trouble for spreading hoax messages?
Yes, spreading false information that could create chaos is an offence in Brunei, and offenders can be charged and penalised. Often, people have good intentions when forwarding warning messages to everyone they know, but if the warning is not true then it will create more harm than good.
When you receive a forwarded message:
- Be suspicious of messages from people you don’t know, especially if they promise you money, prizes or a solution to all your problems. Use common sense. Anything that looks too good to be true usually is!
- Think before you share! Learn to identify hoax messages. Consider whether the story sounds realistic and try to verify its authenticity. Often you can look up information online. There are also websites which expose internet scams.
- Check the accuracy of a message before sending it to other people. If you have confirmed that it is a hoax, simply delete the message.