1098 – A 24/7 Helpline for street children and not for food leftovers

Fake News

Call 1098 to pick up food leftovers from parties and events to curb wastage and feed underprivileged children.

The Truth

  • The origin of the message was traced back to a fabricated email hoax a decade ago.
  • 1098 is a 24-hour emergency helpline for street children in distress, created by Childline India Foundation and NOT for collecting leftovers. Read their notice here (http://www.childlineindia.org.in/).
  • For those of us who would need to share leftovers in India, details of excellent groups and NGO’s who (in reality) have undertaken this herculean task, can be found here.

The Medium/Spread

Chain e-mails (like this), Facebook (example 1 and example 2) , Twitter (example) and umpteen WhatsApp messages are making their rounds.

Chronology of events

  1. What began as a fabricated chain email hoax in 2009 snowballed into fake news and spread wildly on social media recently (2017).
  2. In March 2017, Prime Minister Modi’s speech on a radio show which spoke about wastage of food across the country was misinterpreted and further amplified the rumor, spreading it even today.

The Damage

  • 1098 – A 24-hour emergency helpline for street children in distress, is reportedly receiving over 15% of calls each day with requests to pick up food.
  • These umpteen calls choke the helpline’s network, and children in emergencies do not receive help in time.
  • Every minute spent by Childline India’s resources to educate misguided callers, puts a child’s life at stake.
  • People who genuinely believed the hoax, called the helpline with heaps of food to share. The truth left them baffled.