Hoaxes: Deadlier than Viruses

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Hoaxes: Deadlier than Viruses

Fake news and hoaxes are spreading faster than the deadliest microbes in the air.

Since the technology is ever evolving to bring all the information to our fingertips, it hasn’t evolved enough to counter the human rationale. It’s the rationale that separates humans from robots. But, being at the top of the food chain, how evolved are we?

Misleading, distorted and fabricated news presented with tampered facts act like a phrase in Hindi which goes like, “Kisi ne bola kawa kan le gaya aur sab ho-ho kar daur pare kawwe ke piche”,(Translation: Someone exclaimed, crow took away your ear and everybody started chasing the crow). India is a country of diversified communities with about 355 million internet users; ignoring fact checking can an invitation to unconceivable damage to these communities.

Our existence is not threatened by the Artificial Intelligence, it is threatened by our own ignorance. Not beating around the bush but just preparing enough ground for the next statement.

In these troubled times of radicalism, political turmoil, global unrest caused by geo-political reasons, and personal, religious and regionalism agendas reigning.It doesn’t limit to that, false news on natural calamities aimed at triggering mass hysteria are doing the rounds. Filtering out facts from hoax, holds substantial weightage. Yet, it is simply ignored.

The violent uprisings birthed by successful circulation of fake news & clippings via Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook kind of social platforms, and major media houses, are contradicting the statement that ‘Humans are higher mammals’.

Hoax news or forged clippings with sensational headlines and communal aspects, provoke most of the violent incidents.

A news article published on a website about the mysterious death of Paresh Mesta, lead to a series of tweets, forwards and posts by prominent politicians, started violent protests in various parts of Karnataka. A major news channel also endorsed the news by broadcasting it.

The credibility of people holding prominent positions in Politics, Academics, Religious Institutions and Entertainment Industry et cetera, is seldom questioned. Hence, it is their responsibility to share or post, only verified news.

It must be understood that the people spreading hoax news and the eminent personalities (mostly politicians) supporting them, are sitting far, far away from the consequences of it. Unquestioned forwards on Whatsapp and non-verified posts made on social platforms are claiming innocent lives. They are turning the enthusiastic networking socialites of online platforms, into blood hungry hounds.

Radical ideologies were always present in India but fanning the flames is uncalled for.Implanting the despicable agendas in the unsuspecting minds of the mass is heinous.

Empty mind is the Devil’s playground!

The daily free internet data of more than one to two gigabytes, is making Indians incapable of reasoning or questioning what they see, hear or read.

Internet rumors have steered a series of lynching, especially in rural India. About 20 people have been lynched due to the fake news spreading via Whatsapp, about a gang of child abductors. A chain of explosive & sensational news articles were circulated, accusing innocent individuals of child abduction.

Another Whatsapp rumor claimed 6 lives in May 2017, in Jharkhand’s Singhbhum district. A mob lynched 6 people assuming them to be child abductors.

Peddling rumors, is a brutalabuse of the otherwise resourceful social media platforms. Misleading news publishers cannot be solely blamed, lack of fact checking from the endorsers, share equal responsibility. Particularly, when mainstream media is involved.It is their responsibility to do a thorough fact checking before broadcasting any such news. But it’s the fight for TRP that does not allow them to authenticate the information.

Tampering facts is such a trend setter.

But not all hopes are lost. There are a few individuals who are doing the commendable job of busting the fake & deceptive news.

SM Hoax Slayer, founded by Mr. Pankaj Jain is a website dedicated to fact checking. Check4spam is another such website started by Mr. ShammasOliyath & Mr. BalKrishn Birla, which digs out the facts to slam the spams and Alt News is also a watchdog journalism website by Mr. Prateek Sinha. They are committed towards terminating the trickeries churned out by the hoax news factories.

To ring the alarms on internet myths, we need more such initiatives. Millions of internet users need to be educated about the truth behind any provocative news. The current situation demands building a new habit of fact-checking by the audiences before reacting to any news.

Order of the hour is to, ‘Think before you act’.