Sharjah: Social media helped Sharjah-based Indian expat Anju Appukkuttan find her Emirates ID after she lost it during last year’s floods in her home state of Kerala. But the same platforms are causing concern now, as a post from last year popped up on Facebook and went viral during the recent floods in the South Indian state.
The post showing images of her Emirates ID has been shared over 177,000 times on Facebook alone, and there is no count of how many times it may have been shared on WhatsApp and other instant messaging apps.
The message associated with the post says the Emirates IDs of Appukkuttan and her daughter were found inside a wallet that was swept away in the Kerala floods. The finder’s contact number is also given in the message.
When Gulf News contacted the number after the post went viral in the UAE, Shan Vallamkulam, a resident of Kerala who originally shared the post, said he had uploaded the message on Facebook last year after he found the wallet from the then-overflowing Manimala River in Kerala.
“It happened during the initial days of flooding in Kerala last year,” he said. “When I opened the wallet, I found an ATM card and two ID cards. But there was no contact number or address. So I shared images of the cards on Facebook hoping their owners would see it and contact me.”
He said the post received an overwhelming response with thousands of people, many of them UAE expats, sharing it.
However, Appukkuttan, who was on vacation in Kerala at the time, said she came to know about the post only three months later.
A former nurse, she said she lost the wallet during a bus journey from Kottayam to Karuvanchal. She said it was only the next day that she realised the wallet containing the ID cards, ATM card and a small amount of money was missing.
“The last time I opened the wallet, it was to buy the bus tickets soon after I boarded the bus. I don’t know how I lost it. Looks like I was pick-pocketed and the person who stole my wallet might have just thrown it in the river after taking the money.”
It takes more than an hour’s drive by road to reach the place where the wallet was found.
A friend of Appukkuttan’s husband, who happened to see Vallamkulam’s post, informed her about the matter.
“I had blocked the ATM card immediately," said Appukkuttan. "We had planned to apply for a new Emirates IDs after we returned from our long break. But a neighbour who works near Vallamkulam’s place helped [return our] earlier IDs to us.”
Though Vallamkulam posted comments on Facebook that the owner had received the IDs, the post about the cards being lost were not deleted.
When the floods made a comeback again this year, netizens who chanced upon the post began to share it again, not realising it was from last year.
“I have been flooded with calls about it. I have been patiently answering everyone’s calls and informing them that the owner has collected the IDs. I got some good social media friends because of this post. Many of them still keep in touch with me,” said Vallamkulam.
Appukkuttan, who is thankful for the social media support and help last year, is now on the other side of the fence.
Requesting people to stop sharing the post, she said: “This case shows how social media can be used for a good deeds and yet, at the same time, exposes how people just share posts without verifying details. I request people to please verify facts before sharing posts. And I hope and pray nobody will misuse my ID.”