Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Mechanisms against Fake News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Social media and spread of fake news.

The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to explain its “mechanism” against fake news and bigotry on air, and to create one if it did not already exist.

Discuss how Fake News affects free speech and informed choices of citizens of the country?

What did the Centre say?

  • The media coverage predominantly has to strike a balanced and neutral perspective.
  • It explained that as a matter of journalistic policy, any section of the media may highlight different events, issues and happenings across the world as per their choice.
  • It was for the viewer to choose from the varied opinions offered by the different media outlets.

What is Fake News?

  • Fake news is untrue information presented as news. It often has the aim of damaging the reputation of a person or entity, or making money through advertising revenue.
  • Once common in the print and digital media, the prevalence of fake news has increased with the rise of social media and messengers.
  • Political polarization, post-truth politics, confirmation bias, and social media have been implicated in the spread of fake news.

Threats posed

  • Fake news can reduce the impact of real news by competing with it.
  • In India, the spread of fake news has occurred mostly with relation to political and religious matters.
  • However, misinformation related to COVID-19 pandemic was also widely circulated.
  • Fake news spread through social media in the country has become a serious problem, with the potential of it resulting in mob violence.

Countermeasures

  • Internet shutdowns are often used by the government as a way to control social media rumours from spreading.
  • Ideas such as linking Aadhaar to social media accounts have been suggested to the Supreme Court of India by the Attorney General.
  • In some parts of India like Kannur in Kerala, the government conducted fake news classes in government schools.
  • The government is planning to conduct more public-education initiatives to make the population more aware of fake news.
  • Fact-checking has sparked the creation of fact-checking websites in India to counter fake news.
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