Thursday, June 8, 2023

Fake News: The Growing Parasite

By: Meghna Chowdhury

The information has power. From the time of printing press to the time of the internet, information has played a good role in shaping public opinion. Before the introduction of the newspaper, there was a lack of information; and now, thanks to new media, there is an information overflow. With so much information and news all over the internet, did you ever wonder, whether all of them are true or not? We consume information every second, without giving any effort to know about its origin and credibility and this, has created a problem of mass communication.

Fake news, information, videos, memes, etc. all have become a parcel of our lives. Fake news can be termed as Yellow Journalism, which holds no credibility and accuracy. It is a work of propaganda, that often leads to communal disharmony and riots. Facebook and WhatsApp have become the two major players in the Indian market, which is one of the fastest-growing net communications in the world. People spread information because it makes them look smarter than others. But when you share a meme or any piece of information that is misleading and doesn’t contain any truth then, not only do you look dumb, but you also spread unnecessary hatred.

One might have come across a picture of Abraham Lincoln along with his quote saying- “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet”. One mind finds this picture very convincing but what if I tell you about the fact that there was no internet when he was alive. Therefore, there is no way he could have said this. These days one can get a meme regarding everything. Every year during the time of elections enormous memes come up. Even though they are meant for only entertainment purposes, few of them can hold very powerful information, which can be misleading and damaging.

Fake information is not just about politics. It is about the entertainment industry as well. Recently, Millie Bobby Brown was attacked on the internet, after people began to throw homophobic things and photoshopped her into anti-gay pictures onto her posts and sharing them around the internet.
Few people were very angry and said that it is all wrong because it is not who Millie is. She deleted her account and took down various posts from social media. Another classic example of UNESCO declaring the National Anthem of India as the ‘best national anthem’ in the world. There is absolutely no truth to it. According to an article of TOI and various other articles- “No, UNESCO has not declared our national anthem ‘best in the world’. In fact, UNESCO has not declared national anthem of any country best in the world.”

Therefore, with all the above examples next time when you come across anything that you find interesting on the internet, think before you hit the like and share button. If you know something that you are reading is not true and have evidence to prove it, then report the post. Don’t just scroll down and ignore it. If you find something fishy about any post, make an effort to find out its original source. Find out what other posts and articles have been published by that source. Cross check and verify the information. We need to stop being gullible about everything we read on the internet. WhatsApp has restricted users from excessive forwards and Facebook is using artificial intelligence. Never share misleading information for fun. Be accountable and responsible for everything that you are doing online and make the internet a better place to surf.


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