Some viral messages on WhatsApp in Ghana claim that internet packages of 1000GB worth of data is being offered to internet users for free in order to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
The posts include a link, internet4goffers.com, that recipients of the message are urged to click on activate the package.
“To counter the Corona virus we offer you 1000GB of free internet connection to stay at home safely and enjoy the internet Activate the internet package https://internet4goffers.com/,” one of the variations of the message reads.
This is a false.
Explanation: The outbreak of COVID-19 and the resultant restrictions have led to many people relying heavily on internet data to connect with family and friends as well as work virtually.
Some internet service providers in Ghana have already indicated they have had to deal with the surge in internet usage and also provide some packages for users amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. However, no internet service provider is giving such outrageous data to customers.
On the particular claim mentioned above, it is curious that there was no mention of the exact telecommunication network or internet service provide making the offer.
On visiting the attached web link, the home page has a list of Mobile networks displayed with a message;
“You have been selected to have the opportunity to earn 100GB of free internet for 60 days for any mobile operator. There are 257 free internet packages available.”
The networks listed for a user to choose from are;
- MTN & Rain
- Vodacom & Telecom
- Cell C
According to the National Communication Authority, Ghana currently has only four mobile network operators and these are AirtelTigo, Vodafone, Glo Ghana, and Scancom Ghana (MTN).
Apart from MTN, all the other networks listed on the website that claims to be giving free internet data do not operate in Ghana.
A Google search showed that the networks are rather in South Africa.
To get further information about where the website may lead and why the information seem to have spread far on WhatsApp in Ghana, we chose one of the networks at random and chose at random the number of days we would like to use the internet for free as presented in the survey.
Another message then pops up the screen asking users to share the message to “12 WhatsApp groups or friends so they can also get this free service!.”
It is clear that it is through this directive to share that the message goes viral, creating a long chain of many different people sharing it.
Another means of verification we applied was a simple Google search of the website and that showed that it had in the past been used for a similar fake free internet viral message circulated on WhatsApp. In that case, it was said to be in celebration of WhatsApp’s 10th anniversary.
With the above information, we find that the viral information is a hoax that could prove risky to the devices of persons who visit the website.
Supported by STAR Ghana Foundation with funding from UKAID and the European Union