Wednesday, July 26, 2017


The potential for fake news to turn viral using social media is quite real. There have been several instances where rumors have incited mob violence between rival communities. The consequence got out of hand when illiterate tribals in a remote Indian district received a Whatsapp message which claimed that children could be kidnapped by a gang and their body parts sold. The message went viral in these villages and mobs of upto 500 people pounced on strangers who they suspected to the child kidnappers, in all there were two incidents where 7 people were lynched.
It is quite apparent to every cybercitizen that fake or distorted news is on the rise. Social media allows every individual a platform to disseminate such news or information. Fake news is routinely posted for vested interest such as political distortion, defamation, mischief, inciting trouble and to settle personal problems.

 As aptly illustrated in the case above, when fake news goes viral the ill effects escalate to a point where they can cause physical damage, loss of life or long-term animosity between sections of society. Purposely-crafted fake/distorted news introduced over periods of time by vested interests can distort perspectives and social harmony. Such news is effectively used for ideological indoctrination.

Creation of fake news is extremely simple. Listed below are six commonly used methods

·         Individuals concoct their own stories

·         Marketers release competitive advertisements based on unproven data

·         Groups with vested interests manipulate the volume and narrative of news.

·         Photographs are morphed

·         Old photographs are used to depict recent events

·         Real photographs are used to defame

Obviously, it is also quite easy to catch the perpetrator. A few years back, a twitter hoax was dealt with by a strong reprimand, but not today. Fake news, hoaxes, rumours or any other type of content that results in incitement or defamation attract stronger penalties and jail terms. Police are more aware and vigilant.
Most cybercitizens unwitting help fake news go viral by recirculating it. It creates a sense of belief that it must be true because the other person must have validated the news before sending it.

Pause before forwarding, Evaluate veracity and then Forward. Do not be that link in the chain responsible for the circulation of Fake News
Cybercitizens, do take care when crafting messages on social media – a little mischief may provide you a few years in government paid accommodation – Jail. Advise your children to be responsible and do cross check news received over social media before recirculating or believing in it.

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