What Is Fake News And What Are Its Consequences?

by Saifullah Bashir

Google witness more than 70,000 searches on the search engine every second. Almost 50 crore blogs are written every day. Nearly 500 hours of videos are uploaded on YouTube every minute. Nearly 35 crore photographs are uploaded on Facebook every day. Daily, 50 crore people use Instagram stories. Every second, 6000 tweets are posted on the micro-blogging site.

fake news

The twenty-first century is an era of digitalization where sharing information is a matter of seconds. With the availability of different social media platforms and high-speed internet, humans across the world can know the situation in different nations almost instantly. Now, it does not take years to know the newest developments but just a single click will give you sufficient information and boost your information and knowledge.

Sometimes, however, the same click can trigger unrest and may create law and order issues around the globe. When the unverified information is being shared it creates a negative consequence on the mind of people. It not only creates chaos and confusion but it sometimes put the lives of citizens at risk. Experts called it a vehicle of genocide. It can also impact on business and economy of any MNC as well.

Now, humans heavily rely on social media and the number of social media users in itself an astonishing figure. In other words, we can say that the need for social media is as important as that of oxygen.

Google witness more than 70,000 searches on the search engine every second. Almost 50 crore blogs are written every day. Nearly 500 hours of videos are uploaded on YouTube every minute. Nearly 35 crore photographs are uploaded on Facebook every day. Daily, 50 crore people use Instagram stories. Every second, 6000 tweets are posted on the micro-blogging site. These figures must have given you an idea of how much traffic social media witnesses.

Fake News

As we know the world is witnessing a pandemic that has killed more than a million people throughout the globe. Even during this pandemic, we saw scores of unverified/fake news and its consequence were visible as well. I would like to quote the example of Iran where unverified news was circulated which claims that the consumption of alcohol can cure Covid-19. As a result of it over 700 people died and many others were admitted to hospitals.

So, unverified information leads to multiple troubles and impacts on people in some or the other way. As a citizen of Kashmir, there are many examples that we witness in the recent past. I remember ones a rumor engulfed the valley regarding the polio drops that the government used expired polio vaccines in the valley. Immediately after it, the public outcry was visible on-road and in government hospitals as well.

Why Fake News?

But what can be the reasons for spreading fake news? Are there well-established websites that deliberately circulate fake news on social media and layman fell prey to it? All people want to get answers to these questions.

Generally, we see fake news in the form of photos and videos rather than in print form. However, TV channels are also doing this job to increase TRP (target rating point) and viewership. TRP scam by Republic TV in Mumbai is a recent example, which is being investigated by the police.

Misinformation and disinformation are two different types of unverified news. Misinformation is information that is false, but the person who is disseminating it believes that it is true.

Disinformation is information that is false, and the person who is disseminating it knows it is false. It is a deliberate intentional lie.

Unverified information can be in form of satire, imposter content, false context, fabricated content, manipulated content, etc.

There can be many reasons or attempts by groups of people of a society or by organizations to divert the attention of people or spread the propaganda of some organization. In digitalization, some may use misinformation to get heavy traffic on their concerned websites of social media pages. India being a democratic country, there are high chances that misinformation may be spread prior to elections and voting.

To earn money and profit any website or page may circulate fake news and people will take it as true. It may be used for propaganda and parody as well. Not only a common man but sometimes a big news organization may not be able to detect the news. Also to stop the circulation of fake news it takes a lot of effort but at the same time riots may have happened somewhere.

Check Fake Content

There are many options to check fake photo but then why some reputed organization sometimes circulates these fake photos? The reason is not known. In a hurry to break the news, ahead of competitors, these organizations forget to check the authenticity and credibility of photos. So, for a news organization, it is better to have patience and spend some minutes to check the news.

For verification of photos, there are different apps to verify authenticity. Reverse Image search is considered helpful in checking original source of the photo. You need to drag the particular photograph in the app and instantly it will offer the entire history of that image from its origin to the use by others.

There are other reverse image search options as well. Yandex, a Russian search engine, the Baidu, a Chinese search engine, TinEye, Reverse Image search and RevEye, reverse search engine to verify the photos.  This will give you the time, date, and location of a particular picture.

Rumour Republic

Motion Pictures

On the other hand, we have a video verification check. It is a bit difficult and there is no silver bullet to verify videos. It requires more tools, skills, and observation. It is a combination of revere image search, smart keyword search, strong observational skills, and some tools that can make it easy.

Here are some of the tips:

Always download the videos you are fact-checking.
Archive the URL of posts that include the video.
Use YouTube, Facebook, Twitter-like search engines.
Often messages you receive on Whatsapp are posted with the same message to Facebook and Twitter.
Search with the text of the message often leads you to the video of other platforms.
In the reverse image, search suggestion is not helpful type in keywords.

Saifullah Bashir

In case the video viewer can get some clue, these help in the verification of the video. A contact number, language used by a person in the video, bearing the number of vehicles, name of any complex, and other things can help you to know the exact location of the video then you can call any official of the area and can confirm.

But all these steps are not too efficient to stop the spread of fake news but it requires strong and concrete steps by the government and the responsible media. Awareness programmes among students, advertisements on print media and broadcast, media literacy, and workshops conducted by experts may help in controlling fake news. Before the laws can be strengthened to manage this mess, the issue of fake news must be taught in schools to sanitize the new generation.

(Author is a media student who is an intern with Kashmir Life.)

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