q3fake-news-is-no-longer-a-rare-or-isolated-phenomenon-but-appears-to-be-organized-and-shrewdly-disseminated-to-a-target-population-substantiate-also-highlight-the-causes-of-fake-news-and-measures-nee

Q.3)“Fake news is no longer a rare or isolated phenomenon, but appears to be organized and shrewdly disseminated to a target population.” Substantiate. Also, highlight the causes of fake news and measures needed to tackle it.

Why this question:

The topic has come into light in the wake of farmer protests.

Key demand of the question:

Give recent examples of increasing fake news and mention its causes, impacts and measures needed to deal with it.

Directive:

Substantiate- use several examples, evidence, and logical arguments. Show how a particular research topic or argument is valid by using evidence and arguments to support your claim.

Introduction:

Give a brief introduction of fake news.

Body:

In the first part give a few examples where fake news was spread and it led to disastrous consequences like those during the initial days of the pandemic, recently during the farmer protests, etc.

In the next part, categorically mention the causes of fake news and its impacts briefly. Suggest measures to tackle it.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answers

Fake news or hoax news refers to false propaganda published under the guise of authentic news. It is deliberately cheated to misinform the readers. It can be propagated through any media: print, electronic and social.

Some examples of spread of fake news in India are:

  1. 2013- Fake video that fuelled communal passion led to communal riots in Muzaffarnagar.
  2. 2019- Rumours of child kidnapping led to mob lynching of a man in Jharkhand
  3. 2020- After more members of Tablighi Jamaat tested positive for COVID19, fake news was spread about Muslims deliberately spreading the virus.
  4. 2020- Fake news of COVID spreading through non-vegetarian food led to a boycott of meat traders.
  5. 2021- old videos and pictures of police using water cannons on protesters spread during the farmer protests

Causes of Spread of Fake News:

  1. Erosion of Media Ethics: News media is no longer seen as an arbitrator of the ‘real news’. Media is alleged to be an echo-chamber of the dominant political class.
  2. Social Media: Social media has decentralized the creation and propagation of fake news as it has a large user base.
  3. Polarization of society: Increasing divide in the society on ideological lines has made the job of spreading fake news easier.
  4. Lack of legislation: There are no explicit laws dealing with fake news in India.
  5. Confirmation Bias: Studies have confirmed that people don’t care about finding the ‘truth’ behind a news item and instead look for evidence to support their preferred narrative.
  6. There is a lack of mechanisms to verify any news item that is being forwarded.
  7. Credibility of source- sometimes these news items are shared by personalities that the general public idealize like actors, politicians, etc. 

Fake news creates a series of harmful consequences which include hatred among communities; can damage the character of a person/community; can cause a downfall of the democratic system; can lead to communal incidents and ultimately erodes the trust of the citizens in media which is often called the fourth pillar of a democracy.

Controlling fake news is a tricky issue: not controlling trolls could lead to national and international instability while doing too much to control it could harm democracy. What is currently required is effective mechanisms to check the authenticity of any news, awareness among people to check any news before forwarding them and laws to deal with those spreading fake news for personal gains.