“Everyone deserves a voice. Not everyone deserves a microphone.” – Aaron Sorkin
The internet has given a voice to everyone. Social media has given them the microphone.
That is what we see around today. The internet, which was designed and initially used to connect and communicate, is now the tool used to propagate. Views and opinions are broadcast through the internet in a way that has garbled the difference between fact and fiction. In most cases, the seamless blending of fact and fiction has brought about disastrous effects.
Lives have been lost.
Everyone, from the President of the United States, Donald Trump, to the roadside political henchman today knows about fake news. This is the news that does not exist but has been cooked up to influence and provoke people into action. Images, videos and texts are morphed and created to give an impression that people of their creed and breed have been targeted. This sets up a sense of revenge among those who are the target of fake news.
To many, fake news is the weapon of the Third World War.
You and I have a responsibility to combat fake news, as and when we see it. Be it the harmless Facebook post that tells you how UNESCO has selected the Indian national anthem as the best in the world to images of celebrities morphed for humor, we have to tackle it head-on. Here are some steps you can take on the micro-scaled to fight fake news:
- Cross check before sharing information online. When you share, you endorse it. That is the opinion of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. It takes seconds to verify information online, especially if it is a major event like most fake news claim. A quick search will reveal if the information is true or not.
- If it is fake, make it known through a comment on the thread itself. Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter are the chief platforms where fake news is propagated in this part of the world. They all give you a chance to comment and make it known to the unsuspecting that the news item is fake
- Trust only credible sources of information and read accredited news sources only. Don’t click on sundry links and pick up information before broadcasting them through social networks.
- Don’t share fake news, even privately. This is a battle that everyone has to fight to keep our society and its framework intact. Make it a commitment and involve people into following your lead of rejecting fake news the moment you see it.
- Bring fake news to the notice of concerned authorities so that they can take action. There are cyber cells in the police department. There are steps that social media networks can take by pulling off content if sufficient number of people complains against it.
All of us have to take a united stand against this monster of fake news.