The malady of HOAX has haunted the media for a long time but it has become need of the hour for society in total to curb this menace. Fake news is a hoax which is deliberately spread via online portals which includes doctored photographs, false messages etc.
𝑀𝑎ℎ𝑎𝑟𝑎𝑠ℎ𝑡𝑟𝑎 𝑝𝑜𝑙𝑖𝑐𝑒 ℎ𝑎𝑠 𝑟𝑒𝑔𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑥𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑙𝑦 51 𝑐𝑎𝑠𝑒𝑠 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑠𝑝𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑓𝑎𝑘𝑒 𝑛𝑒𝑤𝑠 𝑎𝑏𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐶𝑜𝑟𝑜𝑛𝑎𝑣𝑖𝑟𝑢𝑠. 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝐺𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑛𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑎 𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑛𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑒 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑜𝑓 “𝑆𝑜𝑐𝑖𝑎𝑙 𝑀𝑒𝑑𝑖𝑎 𝐻𝑢𝑏” 𝑖𝑛 𝑤ℎ𝑖𝑐ℎ 𝑎 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑦 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑏𝑒 𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑝𝑟𝑎𝑒𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑜𝑛𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑒 𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑡𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑚’𝑠 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑖𝑑𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑓𝑦𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑓𝑎𝑘𝑒 𝑛𝑒𝑤𝑠 𝑠𝑝𝑒𝑒𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑣𝑖𝑎 𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑠𝑒 𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑡𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑚.
Some laws to counter fake news in India-
Section 505(1) of Indian Penal Code, 1860: The punishment for making, publishing or circulating any statement, rumour or report which may cause fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public.
Punishment: Imprisonment which may extend to 3 years or fine or both.
Section 66D of Information Technology Act: Whoever, by means for any communication device or computer resource cheats by personating.
Punishment: imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.
Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005: Whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic.
Punishment: Imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine.
Let’s keep aside penalties, fines and punishments, what we need is a controlled and real information. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and other social media platforms have become a stage for clickbait headlines and made-up stories that typically spread faster than the well-researched articles of established news channels. As a result, the spread of news intentionally misleading readers has become an increasing problem for the functioning of our democracies, affecting individuals’ understanding of reality.
𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝐷𝑖𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑜𝑟 𝐺𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑙 𝑜𝑓 𝑊𝑜𝑟𝑙𝑑 𝐻𝑒𝑎𝑙𝑡ℎ 𝑂𝑟𝑔𝑎𝑛𝑖𝑠𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 ; 𝐷𝑟. 𝑇𝑒𝑑𝑟𝑜𝑠 𝐴𝑑ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑜𝑛 𝐺ℎ𝑒𝑏𝑟𝑒𝑦𝑒𝑠𝑢𝑠 𝑎𝑠𝑠𝑒𝑟𝑡𝑒𝑑 ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑜𝑝𝑖𝑛𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑎𝑐𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑓𝑎𝑘𝑒 𝑛𝑒𝑤𝑠 𝑑𝑢𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝐶𝑂𝑉𝐼𝐷-19 𝑎𝑠, “𝑊𝑒 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡 𝑓𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑛 𝑒𝑝𝑖𝑑𝑒𝑚𝑖𝑐, 𝑤𝑒 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑓𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑛 𝑖𝑛𝑓𝑜𝑑𝑒𝑚𝑖𝑐. 𝐹𝑎𝑘𝑒 𝑛𝑒𝑤𝑠 𝑠𝑝𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑑𝑠 𝑓𝑎𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑖𝑙𝑦 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑣𝑖𝑟𝑢𝑠, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑖𝑠 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡 𝑎𝑠 𝑑𝑎𝑛𝑔𝑒𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑠”.
Alberto Alemanno, Jean Monnet Professor of EU law, has specifically opined some solutions to this menace in his paper titled, ‘𝐻𝑜𝑤 𝑡𝑜 𝐶𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝐹𝑎𝑘𝑒 𝑁𝑒𝑤𝑠? 𝐴 𝑇𝑎𝑥𝑜𝑛𝑜𝑚𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝐴𝑛𝑡𝑖-𝑓𝑎𝑘𝑒 𝑁𝑒𝑤𝑠 𝐴𝑝𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑎𝑐ℎ𝑒𝑠’, some of them are –
• STATE INTERVENTION – This is criticized owing to the fact that it creates a chance of non-transparency as the independence of media might get hauled.
• MAKE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS LIABLE FOR THIRD-PARTY CONTENTS- WhatsApp introduced the “Forwarded” label in the messages which is shared by the purveyors for the person who is reading the message should know how to spot the fake news. In June , 2018 West Bengal avered that the citizens of the state can be jailed for posting fake news or misinformation if it causes alarm or fear in the public.
• SWAMPING FAKE NEWS WITH THE TRUTH- Instead of killing the story, you surround that story with related articles so as to provide more context and alternative views to the reader.
We can impose “day fines” for the purveyors who are encouraging fake news as imposed in Nicaragua (country in Central America). The issue regarding the transcended fake news can be solved if the person who is circulating the news is well informed about the occurrence and should not anticipate via any social platform. Let’s not focus on the forest but on trees one by one. Therefore, it is the foremost responsibility of the citizen to stop counterfeited news.
Stay Safe, Spread Truth, Vigilance is Cure!