Burning issue

The Menace of Made News

In a country like India, where the use of social platforms is on the hype it is so easy to spread a fake news on these platforms or through the messaging app. So, a fake news spread instantaneously over WhatsApp chat groups and Facebook is causing a firestorm in India and resulting in the loss of lives, communal violence, misinterpretation etcetera. Till date, across India so many people have lost their lives due to the wave of fallacy defeating fact. Fake news is a challenge we all are grapple with but now it is proving deadly. With the coming election, these fake news are going to play with the minds of the voters to manipulate them through false facts on over-sensitive issues, and people without giving any thoughts on it will start to spread it.

In a recent research of BBC, it is revealed that fake news is fast spreading in India owing to a "rising tide of nationalism" where right-wing networks are much more organised than on the left, pushing "nationalistic fake stories" further. Moreover, in this research, it is found that in our country, facts were less important to some than the emotional desire to bolster national identity". The report also includes, in India people are reluctant to share messages which they think might incite violence, but feel duty bound to share nationalistic messages. In sharing these messages, people feel like they are nation building. To our surprise, this finding enclosed that there was an overlap of fake news sources on Twitter and support networks of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The supporters of Prime Minister have created lakhs of fake accounts to promote the ruling party and show the other party in a false light. So, it is a matter of grave concern in today’s age that how social platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter is being exploited in the country to spread false information.

This recent research by BBC was a part of a project based on findings from original BBC research into how and why disinformation is shared by accessing the user’s encrypted messaging app in India, Kenya and Nigeria. The BBC was given unprecedented access to user’s encrypted messaging apps. The "Beyond Fake News" season will also include "Fake Me", a documentary revealing how far young people will go in pursuit of social media perfection, as well as the in-depth story of what happened when WhatsApp turned one Indian village into a lynch mob. 

Today fake news whether an unscientific incident, a politician’s epithet, or a bot’s deception profoundly unsettle the public and the citizens believe it without even giving a second thought about it. So, with all the reports and research details in front of us, it is abundantly clear that the 2019 General Election is going to be fought via social media and messaging platforms like WhatsApp. To stop it, some serious steps should be taken to avoid this menace to take place in a democratic country. To tackle the sheer volume of information and misinformation that is floating around the Internet, artificial intelligence is increasingly being used. But is it enough to verify and differentiate between fact and fiction? The answer is sure NO. It is the responsibility of every citizen that they do not spread any kind of hatred and manipulative videos or messages without cross-checking the facts multiple times. With the manner in which journalists, politicians, social activists, who are critical of the establishment are incessantly targeted by others, it is not difficult to see that truth in India is becoming an increasingly difficult exercise to work upon. These fake news stories affect the more credulous amongst us into making decisions based on false information. The problem is being seen as so acute that Facebook and Google are hard at work on tools to protect us from this scourge. With our own understanding and since we have to keep ourselves away from being overrun by these fake news.  Gone are those good old days, when we had only a few TV channels, a handful of print publications, and good old AIR, fake news wasn’t an issue at all. The news we consumed was curated for us by a group of professionals who worked tirelessly to report it objectively and accurately. The landscape is vastly different today. Leading thinkers would have us believe that the fake news pandemic could be responsible for steering entire elections, shaping opinions in society and exacerbating falsely-held beliefs and result of it is in front of us.