- The question is from the topic Internal Security | Challenges to internal security through communication networks, the role of media & social networking sites in internal security challenges.
- Fake news is a menace in the society, especially after recent incidents of mob lynchings across various states in India. This makes this topic an important one for this year’s mains.
- Define what is fake news, its nature and spread in the intro.
- Dangers in internal security from fake news discussion will have issues of social disharmony, hatred against sections of society, affecting the mobility of people within the nation, nonstate actors using it to entice violence in the hinterland, destabilizing elections through false propaganda against parties and candidates, impacting trading markets and creating panics among investors, etc.
- Way Forward is demanded in the question itself. Hence it’s important here. Self-regulations, proper monitoring, digital literacy, awareness campaigns, legal definition of fake news etc are some of the steps that you can mention here.
Fake news refers to false information or propaganda published under the guise of being authentic news. With the uncontrolled growth of online media channels, this phenomenon has gained momentum. It contravenes with the fundamental right to have informed choices and once exposed to it, the credibility of genuine news is decreased. Fake news can create adverse opinion for any subject or material and has the potential to be efficiently used for malafide propaganda. Mob lynchings in India, influence on US Presidential Election in 2016 and tension between Pak-Israel are clear cut results of fake news across the world.
Dangers of fake news for internal security:
- It is misleading people, spreading false propaganda or maligning people as well as entire communities.
- It can severely impact the social, political and economic stability of a country.
- Fake news sparks panic raises conflicts and contentions among society as one sees in the case of the Cauvery dispute when malicious rumors and fake news led to the antagonism.
- Communal tensions may develop as deliberately created content appeals to passions.
- Acting upon the fake news circulated through social media, the incidents of mob lynching have increased across the country.
- Most of the time, victims of these mob lynching are innocent citizens whose only fault was being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
- This is a severe threat to the security as victims are mostly from minority community and perpetrator is faceless mob. Thus security agencies can not act definitively.
- It has the ability to create lasting hatred among various sections of society.
- It’s used to vilify the image of political rivals while impacting democratic right to choose the right candidate.
- The extremists and fundamentalist groups are using fake news as a tool for spreading unrest in the society in Kashmir, North East, and Maoist infested areas.
- Fake news is not confined by the physical barriers of the country.
- It has the prospects of destabilizing the markets and causing huge losses to the country.
- A simple fake news can make people run for their money from banks causing mass panic and causing law and order situations.
Steps to keep check on fake news:
- Social media and news organizations can regulate themselves through rigorous internal editorial and advertising standards.
- News and social media companies have a moral responsibility to ensure that they do not misrepresent the facts to their audiences
- Broad forms of what constitutes fake news need to be defined.
- Digital media literacy among people increases scrutiny and feedback on the content.
- The best defense is common sense, a healthy dose of disbelief and critical analysis is always good.
- People should gather news and info from verified news outlets and sources.
- Effective and modern legislations are to be brought to effectively tackle fake news in modern platforms of the Internet and social media.
- To implement the laws, a strong monitoring system, technological and capable human resources have to be put in place.
- Awareness campaigns on the legal and social consequences of fake news.
- Examples such as the Satyameva Jayate program in Kannur schools and initiatives by the superintendent of police in Gadwal demonstrate the potential of such an approach.
- Actions taken against fake news should not put a curb on the right of the individual for free speech and expression.
Fake news can set a dangerous precedent that can erode the trust on which the civilization is based as well as the trust of the people on the country’s media. Traditional media has a big stake in discrediting purveyors of material that is not editorially validated. Challenge the fake news spread through an equal overflooding of true news by conventional media.