RUMOURS, FAKE NEWS & POST TRUTH!

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RUMOURS, FAKE NEWS & POST TRUTH!

The information regime the world over is getting disrupted. The pace & reach of information is mindboggling. A post can get viral in not time. The ease of communication has brought immense benefits but nefarious too can reach their constituency & beyond, in no time, with breathtaking accuracy. The mass nature of digital forgery seems to left this crime mostly to the statute books. Rumours, fake news & post truth have become critical components of our digital existence, challenging the very basics of rationality, logic & objective thinking. Brainwashed subjectivity is in & the whole eco-system supports the creation of the corresponding fake content.

It is antithetical to what the information age stands for; open information regime, empirical & objective. Rumours have played their role since times immemorial, documented since the run-up to the French Revolution. However, moden technology is aiding it, leading to unexpected and often brutal outcomes. Lynchings triggered by rumours on social media is a case in point. Most have been circulated on WhatsApp. India happens to be its biggest customer base with 200 million users. Mofussil India’s internet penetration is around 20%, but it’s the primary source of information.

While some curbs have been put on WhatsApp users; marking the messages as forwards & limiting the forwards to five, may not have the desired impact. Various full page ads & these half baked measures reflects the company intent & inability to tackle the problem. Mob lynchings represent the dark underbelly of internet technology. Spread of misinformation & fake news throws immense challenge to law enforcement. Social media companies are averse to compromising their business model, supposedly built on freedom of speech. It’s crash commercialisation, nonetheless.

Fake news seems to have become the primary content provider for social media. Twitter President Trump has taken his Presidency to the post truth era. Any amounts of facts & investigation are not enough to prove the truth. Will & subjectivity reigns supreme. The state, technology companies & informed social media users need to collaborate to find a solution; which doesn’t seem to be on the horizon.

CONSENSUS ON CURBS BY ALL STAKEHOLDERS MIGHT BE EFFECTIVE.

Sanjay Sahay

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