We get them all the time, emails telling us how horrible certain corporations are because they support a cause we disagree with, or because they release a supposedly hateful product. Emotions take hold and we quickly forward the email to our email lists, never thinking that perhaps the message in the email is wrong, outdated or completely fabricated.
In an online world, where information can and is shared in seconds, we tend to forget how much damage the forward button could inflict on a company.
This week I got an email about the fashion designer Zara. The email told me in big bold letters that Zara is an antisemitic company because they released a handbag that had swastikas embroidered on the corners. The email emphasized that ALL JEWS SHOULD BOYCOTT Zara for this grievous sin.
What the email failed to mention is that Zara apologized for the handbags almost 6 years ago. They claimed that the original design of the bags did not include swastikas and the second they heard that swastikas were on the bag they immediately withdrew them from their stores and issued an apology and explanation. You see the bags were manufactured in India and were using commonly used Hindu symbols, the swastika is an ancient Hindu symbol representing the sun and peace. It was bastardized by the Nazis in the early 1900s. In any case, Zara acted responsibly by pulling the bags, but still got scalded by anonymous email forwarders.
Unfortunately Zara isn’t the only victim of this anonymous email vengeance. According to Snopes.com, the leading website which debunks common day myths, there are thousands of emails circulating calling for the boycott of various companies for false reasons. Visit snopes.com and search for boycott and browse hundreds of thousands of articles dealing with the topic.
It is time we hesitate before we hit the forward button. It is time we put emotions aside and use our fingers to fact check before we disseminate false information. Usually a quick Google search will reveal the truth, but if it doesn’t, or you don’t have time to fact check that email, hit the delete key and participate in the principle innocent unless proven guilty.
Think about how you would feel if you or your company were falsely accused of something. Think of the economic effect a boycott on your source of income would have. Think twice before hitting that forward button.