The article, ‘Initiatives to Counter Fake News‘ by Rajeshwari Rajesh is of contemporary importance because unlimited freedom makes social media platforms prone to misuse and misinformation, leading to fake news. In recent years, social networks have become an important participant in shaping the public discourse of the democratic space.
In June 2020, India, along with 12 other countries, led an initiative aimed at spreading fact-based content to counter misinformation on the coronavirus, with over 130 nations endorsing the global call to fight the “infodemic” relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fake news phenomenon has always existed; however, it has become rampant in recent years. Pandemic, religious minorities, Dalits have all been attacked by this cowardly enemy- ‘fake information’.
The spread of fake news content is now very common. Technological development with the manufacturers that provide this news has broadened the range of tools available. Previously, government, politics and influential people were the only ones who could manipulate public opinion. But now anyone with an internet connection can do it.
In many countries, fake news is used as an excuse to pursue dissidents, limiting freedom of expression and afflicting journalists. Therefore, it is very important to understand the situation before deciding on the best course of action.
“Fake news” has become a global concern because of the increasing number of annoying events that challenge users’ trust in news, especially through social media. Failure to implement policies or laws that can curb fake news or pursue perpetrators will only make the situation more complicated and challenging.
Difference between Misinformation and Fake Information
Misinformation: It is false information, but those who spread this information believe it to be true.
Fake Information: It is false information, but anyone who spreads this information knows that this information is false. That means it’s intentionally shared.
Fake news is usually spread intentionally. At the present, there is a spread of COVID-19 fake news and misinformation especially concerning vaccines. Such fake news creates fear in the minds of people and does great harm to society.
Another example is where in 2016, as part of India’s banknote monetization, India introduced a new currency of 2,000 rupees. Later, some fake news reports of “spy technology” added to the banknotes spread on WhatsApp and were rejected by the government.
A lot of “misinformation” is spreading around the world every day, not only about the pandemic, but of various kinds, either we are not aware of or we think is true. We believe this information, and often do not try to find out the truth.
Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, director at Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, thinks that and which is true also, that:
“the problems of disinformation in a society like India might be more sophisticated and more challenging than they are in the West”.
While there is no single definition of fake news, what makes it problematic is that it allows for subjective interpretations of the concept, makes it difficult to study, or allows for any political interference. which value. Fake news includes stories, news and hoaxes created to intentionally misinform or mislead readers or to advance a political agenda. In modern times, many media have spread false news.
India’s main fake news distributor is WhatsApp, which has been acquired by social media giant Facebook. This social media platform allows users to share information by passing it on to other users in different groups and mailing lists within the same platform, which has led to widespread dissemination and has no control over information that is rarely verified by users.
This not only misleads users on the social network but also causes violence and barbaric murders across the country.
A team of doctors, paramedics and tax officials went to identify family members of a 65-year-old man who died of COVID19 were attacked in Indore, Madhya Pradesh following when a fake video claiming to be healthy Muslim and being injected with the virus, was shared repeatedly, showcase the danger and physical manifestations of misinformation.
Media literacy is the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending.
Media Literacy Education can fight fake news that is prevalent in our society because media literacy education requires critical thinking skills. Citizens with a media literacy education can understand and determine whether the news is true/false.
WhatsApp, the most used app is the worst place for fake news. The person who communicates this “false information” in a group or personally is the most important factor. This can only be prevented by conducting training in media literacy education. These are essential to the community as rumours and false news are increasing day by day in our society.
Governments use internet interruptions as a means of controlling the spread of social media rumours. Ideas such as connecting Aadhaar to a social media account were proposed to the Supreme Court of India by the Attorney General to make people accountable for their acts on social media.
In some parts of India, such as Kannur, Kerala, the government conducted fake news lessons in public schools. Some say the government must carry out more public relations efforts to get the public to know more about fake news.
Following more than 30 murders related to rumours spreading through WhatsApp, now WhatsApp has introduced various measures to curb the spread of false information. This includes the introduction of a hint line for any of the other actions, such as account suspension or forwarding, as well as limiting the number of people a message can be delivered to.
The process of digital literacy and advertisements covered pages of newspapers in multiple languages. Twitter has also taken steps to curb the spread of fake news, such as account deletions.
Google News in 2018 launched a program to educate 8,000 journalists in seven official Indian languages, including English. Google’s world’s largest educational initiative, this program is to spread awareness of practices that prevent fake news and false information, such as fact-finding.
Media Houses now have their own facts departments like India Today Group, Times Internet’s TOI Factcheck, and The Quint’s Web Qoof.
In November 2019, India’s Information Broadcasting Department set up a FACT confirmation module to continuously monitor online news sources and publicly visible social media posts and respond to fake news dissemination.
This module operates on the four principles of Find, Evaluate, Create, and Target (FACT). The initiative was initially run by information service personnel. At the end of 2019, the Press Intelligence Agency (under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) established a fact-checking unit to focus on verifying government-related news.
The provisions of the Information Technology Act have also been revised in such a way that the social media giants are asked to filter out fake content or face the legal mechanism in the country.
The journey to fight fake news continues by using legal action and methods to make people using creating fake news and brewing hatred and chaos accountable. However, a permanent solution to the is still so far. The government is taking strict action against the offenders and let’s hope for an internet experience with minimal misinformation and fake news.
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