Fake News Killing People, Yet Government Not Taking it Seriously
Ghazanfar Abbas, IndiaTomorrow.net,
New Delhi, Sep 18: "Recently we have seen many crimes due to rumours based on morphed image and fake videos in various states where people have been killed. So now fake news is killing people. It is a big issue that has not been taken seriously as it should have been," said senior journalist Pratik Sinha, who is co-founder of altnews.in, a website dedicated to exposing fake news.
He was speaking at program entitled "Fake News: Kya Hai Is Jhooth Ka Sach?" organized by StudioAdda initiative at the Constitution Club here on Monday.
He gave several example of fake news including the recent one tweeted by Congress leader Digvijaya Singh about NDTV executive editor Ravish Kumar's remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Fake news has become prevalent in a divisive, polarised society based on religious identity. The main factors behind circulation fake stuff is illiteracy of people in urban and rural both areas and their way of using social media," said Sinha.
Audience at an event on Fake News in New Delhi
His altnews.in has ripped through several fake news stories in recent time. While lamenting that the government is not doing enough to curb the menace of fake news, he said:
"We have been consistently exposing fake news and videos that were viral at large level. Multiple organizations along with mainstream media must come together. Till there is no public pressure, no government will do anything. We need to tell people and make them aware," Sinha said.
Gurmehar Kaur, Delhi University student who hit national and international headlines as she stood up against culture of violence by right-wing Hindu youth groups, was also a victim of fake news during the infamous Ramjas College incident.
Pratik Sinha and Gurmehar Kaur at an event on Fake News in New Delhi
While speaking at the topic, Gurmehar said: When Ramjas violent incident happened, a fake video was circulated on social media that I am in a car and drinking (alcohol) and dancing. That video was purposely made."
"Another thing happened when I said 'Pakistan did not kill my father it is war that did,' she said and explained: "The meaning behind that was that the conflict was not solved but people started calling me antinational though that video had come a year ago before that incident. At that time I was not antinational. I became anti-national when I took stand on an issue and I wrote a status on Facebook," said she.
Other eminent persons present at the Constitution Club event included Apoorva from, Studio Adda; Anupam Pandey from Outlook Magazine and Martand Jha from The Hindu.
"The past two years witness unfortunate and extreme response to rumours based on suspicions unfounded in fact like, for example, lynching, sedition or hurting sentiments of communities. The trend has revealed that India has enough fake news to justify the use of the word 'epidemic'. Internet through Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook has become an important tool to manufacture fake news in a fast and effective manner," said Studio Adda.