The video, which had been viewed over 100 000 times, carried the accompanying text: “Ex-girlfriend with her gang attend the wedding reception of ex-boyfriend in East London, even the security were overpowered.
How would you like your news served today - piping hot, mild or fake?

Whatever your choice, here’s a bit of friendly advice: approach that third option with extreme caution; it could come back to bite you.

Popularised by the current tenant of the White House, Donald Trump, who uses it as a weapon against any media critical of him, fake news is potentially toxic and known to trigger quite painful side effects best avoided.

I was one of many who learnt that lesson the hard way over the past week. It all started when a journalist friend sent me a video on WhatsApp, captioned: “Taken in EL last night at an ANC function.”

The video showed chaotic scenes at a social event in which guests were seen grabbing hold of whatever they could lay their hands on - including beer bottles, cans, glass jars and plastic chairs - and hurling them angrily on to the white curtain-draped stage.

Despite several attempts by security personnel to calm guests down, the bedlam continued for several agonising minutes as missiles rained on to the stage.

Being in the business of news, I shared the video with three colleagues who responded with concern.

“Cry, the beloved country,” one replied. “There goes Mandela’s dream,” another despaired.

Minutes later came a sobering posting from the third colleague: “Hey, guys, that was not a political event. It was a wedding gone horribly wrong.”

He was referring to a tweet widely shared on social media which purported to be the video of a wedding in East London in the Eastern Cape.

The video, which had been viewed over 100 000 times, carried the accompanying text: “Ex-girlfriend with her gang attend the wedding reception of ex-boyfriend in East London, even the security were overpowered.”

Well, now that the “truth” had been revealed, I did the honourable thing and shared this new revelation with my colleagues.

Given the volatility of current affairs in our country, we were all relieved the event was not politically related.

But just as I was settling down to a good night’s rest, yet another tweet arrived saying the video in question had absolutely nothing to do with a wedding.

Nor did the event take place here in South Africa, but thousands of kilometres away at the Royal Regency Hotel in a suburb in east London in the UK.

It turns out the angry guests were in fact Ugandan locals in London, disgruntled they had paid £60 each for VIP seats to watch a star musician who failed to turn up.

This was later confirmed by the hotel management whose spokesperson said: “Yes, it was a music event, the performer didn’t show up, so people got upset and violent.”

Perish the thought the day will come when fake news becomes indistinguishable from the truth.