The events of the last 15 days were pretty unanticipated and shocking. Beginning with the plane crash during the trial run on the previous day of the aero show in Bengaluru followed by a series of fire incidents and many more. There was an immense loss of more than 300 cars in Bengaluru on the penultimate day of the aero show, loss of around 10,000 acres of forest land at Bandipur. The most shocking incident was the escalation of tension between Pakistan and India – the Pulwama attack, the Balakot strike and the capture of Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. Nevertheless, the greatest relief to the entire nation is the release of Abhinandan subsequently.
During these times of distress, everyone would want to help out as much as they can, but their hands are tied. People would not understand what to do, other than pouring out their feelings on the social media walls and spreading even the tiniest of the information through messaging apps like WhatsApp, Hike, etc. The advent of social media and the modern era of technology has granted us this means of finding relief and do our minuscule part of service.
Yes, it is true that we are helping keep the society aware of what is going on along with we ourselves growing aware. But, the greatest problem of this information age is that most of the times we blindly approve the information conveyed to us. Before giving a second thought, we tap the send button to spread the information we received, to our contacts and groups. Within no time it reaches hundreds of people.
The other day, in one of the WhatsApp groups I saw a video which displayed a series car accident. It was written that it had occurred on the way to aero show. This video created such a stir that the following day Bangalore Traffic Police gave a clarification that it was an old video and was fake. The clarification was published in newspaper too. Bangalore Traffic Police had also requested people not to circulate the video.
After the instance of capturing Abhinandan, everyone began uploading tweets and information about it. Unfortunately, many of the tweets were by fake twitter account of Narendra Modi, Ajit Doval; people seldom realized it. Everyone was so happy with the aggressive tweets by the fake account and would repost it as their WhatsApp story. There was a poem which was circulated widely under the name of the sister of Abhinandan but in fact, it was a poem written by some techie. Such fake news circulates like a hot cake in the market. During demonetization, the rumour of 2000-rupee notes containing a chip was wild spread and Arun Jaitley had to give clarification regarding this. Even to this day many of the vendors don’t accept 10-rupee coin, the reason being the rumour spread against its legality.
Communication plays a very important role in starting or stopping public chaos. One wrong information about religion or tolerance, society can burn in flames. This is evident from the fact that, whenever there is an internal disturbance in an area, the first measure of the resort is to cut down the communication lines and to jam telephonic signals.
Solution to mitigate fake news:
We are the citizens of this country and it lies in our hands to become a responsible one. As responsible citizens, we have to understand the importance of real information and stay away from spreading fake news. It takes a simple effort from every one of us. Whenever there is a piece of information, we have to devote a little time of ours to verify before forwarding it to someone else. We have to check its source and verify its authenticity before conveying the wrong information to many other people.
While the individuals have to put in an effort as mentioned above, private companies or the Government has to create platforms to check the authenticity of the information which is let loose on the social media platform. Strengthening of the Information Technology Act to take stringent measures against people who create such fake news has to be a way forward. Checking of the fake information and spreading genuine information along with the source of it can be a medicine to a healthy and harmonious society.
(Image Source: Bangalore Mirror dated February 22, 2019)