Editor’s Note: My brother Hanif recently started blogging. Biased big sis tendencies aside, he’s a great writer! He also has a great sense of humor which comes across in his posts – something I fail horribly at – like this one on riding the trotro (public mini-bus) in Accra. The article featured belows echoes some of my thinking in recent weeks about information consumption – bottomline:  verify information, draw on multiple streams for a holistic perspective, don’t take things for face value. Hope you enjoy his piece like I did!


Number One: Don’t believe everything you see on the internet. No, scratch that. Don’t believe anything you see on the internet. Take everything with a ton of salt. It really surprises me when people unconditionally trust a source just because it’s ‘from the internet’. I mean. Do you trust human beings? Of all of God’s creations, human beings are the most untrustworthy. Let’s take a lion for example; if it’s hungry and you’re within reach, it will most likely gobble you up. It follows its instinct, like all animals. They are predictable. Not so mankind. As one famous personality put it:

We change, ergo, we’re unpredictable, ergo trust us at your own risk. Got it? Ok, cool! On to next question, do you really know what the internet is? As in, do you know where all the content on the internet is from?


Take a wild guess.


Lol. No, it’s not dolphins, but I like the way you are thinking. It’s human beings, and since we’ve already established that you can’t trust us, why would you trust what we put up online?


You’re probably thinking by now, ‘Well, if I can’t trust anything online, how do we get information then?‘ Well, there is the simple matter of using an internet search engine (Google, Bing…umm..those are the only two I can remember now). Yeah, so what I’m saying is, cross-check before you disseminate information. It doesn’t kill you to. Just ‘google’ or ‘bing’ it. If it’s verified by multiple sources, then it’s probably true. You can now take it with a pinch of salt.

Popular websites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook try to help you with that by ‘verifying’ accounts so users are sure that that is the celebrity/news agency/company that is actually posting that content there. So on those accounts, you’ll see a blue tick near the name. LOL. Doesn’t change the fact that it’s still run by humans. In fact, its being verified makes it more dangerous. You think you can trust what they say, so you let your guard down. Look what happened with the Associated Press Twitter account back in 2013. Lesson learnt: A blue tick doesn’t guarantee verified content.


Neither does a picture that accompanies a quote. For some reason, people are sceptical about random text generally, but if it comes with a picture they’re like ‘Oh my God, there is a picture with it, it MUST be the gospel truth‘. (Refer to picture at top of post; if the bit of sarcasm at the bottom wasn’t there it would be a good example of the kind misinformation floating around the internet). Some poor bastard who doesn’t get sarcasm somewhere has probably tried that ‘home remedy’.


When I say ‘internet’ that includes content on mobile devices too. Please don’t forward that paragraph of questionable information to me on Whatsapp or Viber unless you’ve checked it out yourself. If I check it out and it’s false, I would probably ignore further public service announcements from you and you’ll also probably dip in my rankings with regard to credibility.



PSYCH! Kwame Nkrumah didn’t actually say:

“The only thing that one really knows about human nature is that it changes.”

It was Oscar Wilde. Like I said, you can’t trust anything you see online.


Number Two: Don’t click just any link, unless you are sure of it. Especially that ‘pop up’, it’s most likely spam or malware. You don’t know what spam is? Follow this link. Don’t worry, you can trust it. I’m serious, you can trust me (this time).

Spammers usually try to attract your click by using trigger words like ‘Free’ ‘Sale’ and ‘Sex’ because apparently these words are hard-wired in us. They also use bright colours and flashing lights. I remember when visiting a site, I ‘won’ a ticket on a cruise ship because I was the 100,000th visitor. That was back when I was like 11 or 12. I was so ecstatic, I spent over thirty minutes trying to fill out the form…my personal details…some internet information….luckily I didn’t have a bank account, so I wasn’t able to complete the form. Thank God for that.


One way you can avoid all these distractions is making use of ad-blockers on your browser. (Chrome or Firefox. I don’t know about Internet Explorer or Safari, cause I don’t use those. Who uses Internet Explorer anyway?). Some sites are able to detect if you’re using an ad blocker and ask you to disable it for their site before you can use their (usually) free service (It’s their source of income, I don’t blame them). It’s up to your discretion though. So to answer the question that’s at the back of your mind; no. No, there are probably no ‘hot singles’ in your area who want to meet up, I’m sorry.


What’s worse than spam? Malware. Follow this link, it will tell you all about it. Go on :)  I dare you. I double-dare you. Malware has the ability to gather sensitive information on your PC (passwords, pins, bank account numbers), disrupt your PCs operation or gain access to your computer system. Yes, viruses fall under Malware. Just steer clear, ok? So to sum up:

If the offer seems too good to be true…it probably IS.



Written by Mohammed-Hanif Abdulai

Interact with Hanif  – Twitter | Photo Source: www.yenkazia.wordpress.com

  The views expressed in this post are those of the author and in no way reflect those of Circumspecte.

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