Fighting the 'Fake News' - Seeker's Thoughts

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Monday, 6 May 2019

Fighting the 'Fake News'


Fabricated and manipulated content are increasingly gaining ground in India. This is certainly leading to the possibility of potential violence, hatred and is impacting the social fabric in many ways. 
credit- Seeker's Thoughts Team


The advent of fake news is not new or recent, but its potential of reach has magnified with new online platforms and applications. 

'The growing stream of reporting on and data about fake news, misinformation, partisan content, and news literacy is hard to keep up with. '

The rise of digital and social media is amplifying the effect of fake news. Notably, in recent days, isolated cases in different states for sharing false content through messaging and other social media platforms were booked.


 On some occasion, the internet has been shut down by the government on the pretext of inciting violence and to stop the spread of misinformation.
https://www.seekersthoughts.com/2019/03/the-date-leak-and-why-is-it-crucial-to.html
The Data Leak



Fake News have grown nearly 200%

Misinformation and disinformation spread in media is becoming a serious social challenge. It is leading to the poisonous atmosphere on the web and causing riots.

‘Fake news’ in Indian media over the last three odd years has grown by nearly 200%, partly driven by the Cambridge analytical exposes at the time of state election.

 In all there have been 47,543 news articles online about ‘fake news’ between January 2015 and September 2018.



What is Fake News?

Fake news or junk news or pseudo-news is a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media.



Who was the first to start the fake news?


English language media were the first to start talking about ‘fake news’ and continue to cover it most often, with vernacular media are starting to engage with the issue more of late.
Credit- team Seeker's Thoughts




Fake News in India


Language media coverage of ‘fake news’ in India has spanned across a number of topics unsurprisingly, 46% of the coverage is domestic, though 15% is about fake news in the international context. One of the most important points to note here, though, is that reporting on ‘fake news’ related to ‘scams and scares’ constitutes just 0.7% of the coverage.


Interestingly, just 9% of the coverage is about solution to the ‘fake news’ problem indicating the complexity of the situation.



Effect of Media Bias
In social structure, media has distinct place of form image about significant political and social issues.

Media coverage has major impact in public when it characterizes the whole event and provides reliable information about numerous issues such as environment, technology and risk. Media is considered as a potent source of information and opinion for readers through newspapers, magazines, television, radio and the internet.

 Various studies have exposed that the public increases their knowledge base about science from the mass media. Therefore, it is important to scrutinize the injustice and misrepresentation of media coverage of serious issues.
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Mass media has an influence on civilization and in depth look at its most popular forms today, it would most certainly reveal numerous blatant injustices in the way TV networks, print media, and internet websites spread information. 

It has been seen that millions of citizens watch their television to know what is happening in their surroundings. They form opinion on certain issues based on news broadcast in TV or other news media. The media’s role in political matters is especially significant when they have the power to make or break a candidate. They can criticize a candidate or make him/her likeable.

News media networks affect the public’s interest in politics by presenting the people what they want them to see.

Even if there are many issues in crusade, the media will focus on the one they consider to be the most important, and other issues are overlooked.

It is well known that public makes impression to what they watch in news media. But on public policy issues if the news on which they rely is deformed, it is obviously crucial that TV news broadcasts and other media must be unbiased. Nonetheless, there has always heated debate about media bias.

Many authors and intellectuals explained that media bias is methodical, persistent unbalance in mainstream news coverage for the purpose of influencing opinion on major issues.

Media bias is the bias of reporters and news producers in the choice of events and stories that are described, and the way they are covered. Media bias happens when a media outlet reports a new story in a partial or unfair manner.

What is scrutinized and what is ignored?

Overhype and aggression coverage is the new phenomenon of selling news these days, as it increases Target Rating Point (TRP) giving more business to media houses. Every news story resembles a  tehelka like expose-corruption, sex and violence and there is always a doctored videotape.

Television news channels have become more politics oriented, while all other critical issues are left out which needs more significant spotlight. 

90% news channels show unimportant news. And the real news is left ignored. There are several issues in India which needs attention like- pollution, manual scavenging, unemployment, women empowerment etc...

Sensationalism is a category of editorial bias in mass media in which events and topics in news stories and pieced are over publicized to increase viewers. Sensationalism may include reporting about generally unimportant matters and events that do not influence overall civilization, as well as prejudiced presentations of interesting topics in a sensationalist, trivia, or tabloid manner.


The Scale of the Problem in India
In the age of the internet (WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter) it is a serious problems rumours, morphed images, click-baits, motivated stories, unverified information, planted stories for various interests spread easily among 35 crore internet users in India.
There have been many instances of online rumours leading to killing of innocent people. In some cases, ministers have deleted tweets after realizing the fake news which they shared earlier. In India WhatsApp is the platform most vulnerable to fake news.

Millions of India a vast percentage is uneducated using mobile internet innocently forwarding ‘good morning’ massages every day is seen as most vulnerable to fake news.
In the recent Karnataka Assembly elections 2018 fake news about trivial parties and candidates flooded the media.

One of the strongest evidences of fake news came up during the time of the demonetization drive. The concept of fitting a GPS chip on the RS 2000 notes made bug news until the RBI clarified officially through its press release that no such advanced features were used in the new currency notes.

One of the recent examples was when the Pulwama attack happened and India stroked back in Pakistan Balakot, a fake video game video got viral where airplane is throwing missile on the target.

That video spread on several media platform and people actually believed that the video was actually a real video of the strike.

Laws and Regulations to Curb Fake News in India

There is no specific law against fake news in India. Free publication of news flows from Article 19 of the constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech.

Press council of India, a regulatory body, can warn admonish or censure the newspaper, the news agency, the editor or the journalist or disapprove the conduct of the editor or the journalist if it finds that a newspaper or a news agency has violated journalistic ethics.
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Know about it

News Broadcaster Association (NBA) represents the private television news and current affairs broadcasters. The self-regulatory body probes complaints against electronic media.

Indian Broadcast Foundation (IBF) also looks into the complaints against contents aired by channels.

Broadcasting Content Complaint Council (BCCC) admits complaints against TV broadcasters for objectionable TV content and fake news.

Indian penal Code (IPC) has certain sections which could curb fake news: section 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 295 (injuring or defiling place or worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) can be invoked to guard against fake news.

Section 66 in The Information Technology Act, 2000: if any person, dishonestly or fraudulently, does any act referred to in section 43 (damage to computer, computer system), he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees or with both.

Civil or Criminal Case for defamation is another resort against fake news for individual and groups hurt by the fake news. IPC section 499 (defamation) and 500 (whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine or with both) provide for a defamation suit.

Note - India’s rank is 136 out of 180 countries in the world press freedom index (2017).
https://www.seekersthoughts.com/2019/03/the-death-penalty-never-ends.html
Never Ending Death penalty



Conclusion 

Fake news if often created and circulated for gaining electoral currency and political gains. Often governments’ own party and agencies (through the undisclosed purchase of political ads and IT cells) may be involved. It is raising trend seen in many countries led by china and Russia where internet manipulation and control is very high.
Any future legislation to curb fake news should take the whole picture into account and not blame the media and go-knee-jerk reactions; in this age of new media anyone can create and circulate new for undisclosed benefits.

Controlling fake news is tricky issue: not controlling trolls could lead to national and international instability while doing too much to control it could harm democracy.

Countering content manipulation and fake news to restore faith in social media without undermining internet and media freedom will require public education, strengthening of regulations and effort to teach companies to make suitable algorithm of news curation.

For example- Italy has experimentally added ‘recognizing fake news in school syllabus. India should also seriously emphasize cyber security, internet education, and fake news education in the academic curriculum at all levels.














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