Impact of Fake News on Society
IMPACT OF FAKE NEWS ON SOCIETY
In today’s era of internet and social media, information has taken a new place. The rapid transformation of traditional print media into online portals has started a new trend of getting updates instantly.
Gone are those days when we used to wait for the morning newspaper to start our day. The internet has provided a platform where anything can be accessed with just one touch. Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives which directly or indirectly controls our psychology.
Have you ever thought about the legitimacy of the news received at our end?
“Disinformation is duping. Misinformation is tricking.” ― Toba Beta
“The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.” ― Garry Kasparov
STATISTICS – What Numbers have to Say?
- Active internet users- about 4 billion
- People receiving news from social media – about 35%
- Social media handlers in India
- Facebook 94%
- Instagram 32%
- Pinterest 35%
- Youtube 61%
- Twitter 58%
- The first newspaper of India ‘The Bengal Gazette’-published on 29th January 1780.
- The First news agency service became available with the Press Trust of India in 1920.
- The first search engine was created and made available for the public in 1990.
- Social Media advances in the 2000s – Friendster was the first proper social network.
DESCRIPTION – Let’s take a Deep Dive
Fake news – false information or claims propagated through various media platforms.
The online social media has liberated every individual to put their views openly, but on the other hand, it has become a breeding ground for false and fake news. By Increasing the use of mobile devices and easy internet access, social platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter have turned into powerful places for providing news and entertainment.
However, it has also created an environment of confusion making it difficult for us, what to believe and what not. This means that the authenticity of the content is hard to know. However, the fake news is likely to spread faster than the truth.
Social media has great control over what information we see and gather. Liking and sharing posts have become a trend nowadays. This is how fake news spreads more often due to a reader’s lack of knowledge. Sometimes these are spread deliberately to fulfil some vicious needs.
EXAMPLES OF FAKE NEWS
Communal violence in Bangladesh fuelled by fake news on Facebook.
In November 2019, a derogatory messages spread all over Facebook which was alleged to be written by a Hindu youth. Hundreds of Muslims turned down to Dhaka streets which turned into a violent clash between the two sections. The widespread rumour resulted in deaths and extreme damage to government property.
Misinformation related to the virus is in the form of social media messages related to home remedies that have not been verified, fake advisories and theories are revolving all around the online platforms.
Bandra (Mumbai) Migrant crisis
Amid lockdown all over the country, where everyone was supposed to maintain social distance, an unfortunate incident took place at Mumbai’s station Bandra. Fake news of railway services resumption was circulated all over social media, which triggered a huge gathering of migrant labourers at Bandra station.
It risked thousands of lives and the sole aim of the lockdown to avoid social contacts were tattered. It cost a lot to the administration and the medical staff who were working day and night to control the pandemic. The place than emerged as a hotspot of coronavirus.
Infodemic – an epidemic of misinformation, WHO’s recently launched a platform which aims to combat misinformation around COVID-19.
EPI-WIN- (Epidemic – WHO Information Network): A new information platform by WHO to provide COVID information worldwide.
Fake news and media
Media is considered as a connecting link between common people and the government. This public service platform is also vulnerable to misinformation. Many times we come across cases of weak journalism where they failed sort of their promise.
In this era of paid news, many news channels run different political agendas to improve their TRPs. Experts believe that people trust traditional media 22% less than online social platforms. Sometimes the veracity of information is compromised for the sake of moving ahead of competitors and turnover growth.
Most of the news agencies have taken political angle where facts are manipulated before presenting.
Demonetization and fake news
It was claimed by Zee news (one of the biggest news channels) that the new 2000 rupee notes will be installed with a nano-GPS chip which will help to identify the black money. This claim turned out to be one of the biggest fake news, to claim the TRP.
The year 2019
The year has hit a high in the spreading of fake news with every major event. From the general elections and scrapping of article 370 to Pulwama attack and Citizen Amendment Bill, triggered extensive distribution of manipulated and misleading information across both social media and news channels.
India has the largest number of social media account holders. There is always a risk of spreading rumours through Hate speeches and fake news which sometimes turns into unfortunate incidents such as mob attacks and lynching.
Read more: Mob Lynching in India
STEPS TAKEN TO CONTROL FAKE NEWS
1. Online platforms
- Forwarding messages to a limited number of people, and suspending accounts of suspects.
- Adding a small tag, forwarded, to relevant messages.
- They also started a course on digital literacy in various languages.
- Action such as deleting accounts to curb the spread of fake news.
- Conducted fake news classes in government schools.
- Initiatives such as public-education are taken to make the population more aware of fake news.
- Department of information and broadcasting, set up a regulation model, FACT(Find, Assess, Create and Target) to counter the circulation of fake news by keeping an eye on social media posts and online news sources.
- Data localization: companies operating in the country are supposed to keep a physical record of the data within the country, which is supposed to be shared by the government.
Government initiative to tackle fake news on COVID-19
Arogya Setu– App launched by the Indian government to provide the right information to the citizens and to avoid any panic situation due to fake news circulation.
3. News and print media
- Regular training for journalists to recognize and trace fake news.
- Journalism Guidelines are circulated and asked to stick to the journalism ethics.
WHAT CAN BE DONE
- Thinking before acting is the need of the hour. Instead of believing whatever is served online, one should recheck its veracity before believing.
- Radio and TV program adds in local languages to aware rural locals.
- The administration should also keep a strict check on the information circuit of the area, especially in rural areas by involving the youths.
- Strict rules are to be made and actions like cancelling of license, those who fail to adhere it, must be taken.
- People living in rural areas need to be aware and updated from time to time.
- Small monitoring modules can be set up to stop and trace problematic messages.
In this new era, most of us are always connected to the internet and we have so much information at our fingertips that we don’t bother to filter it. Moreover, online news portals and social media have much to teach us about ongoing issues and various social, economic, and cultural events.
And as a global platform, social media has made leaps in the last two decades but has also created serious problems by spreading fake news and rumours, mob lynching being the biggest potential threat.
In this new era “always connected to the internet”, the role of education, awareness, and friends plays a major role in deciding what we are serving to our minds and our society. It is up to us, to be the new fact-checkers for the online platforms before forwarding it to anyone. So double-check the information before believing it, after all when we use the platform correctly then only it enhances our life.
Author: Priyanka Mahala
GD/WAT Topics for MBA Admissions