It all started with the internet boom and the creation of messenger service, and the world today faces a crisis like no other. Fake news plagues every industry, big and small. Be it health, medicine, politics of entertainment - the access to a wider audience through the touch of a button has given impetus to the spread of fake news.
The scope for fake news increases as it is often intriguing or scandalous.
The world and fake news
We live in a world where it's getting increasingly tougher to distinguish between fake news and truth, it is now important for each of us to pause before we share any forwarded message or any link that appeals to our biases.
Famously termed as the 'infodemic,' the severity of the crisis skyrocketed with the advancement of communication mediums. Messenger services are the prime targets through which misinformation and disinformation are often spread.
The United Nations has been actively working on debunking fake news. Apart from that, it has also been reaching out to people to explain to them the importance of verifying the news before believing in it.
The Indian government also took initiatives to curb the spread of fake news during the initial days of the outbreak of coronavirus. WhatsApp groups were forbidden from sharing any COVID-19 related pieces of information and actions were taken against those violating the norms.
What is fake news?
Dictionary.com defines fake news as false news stories, often of a sensational nature, created to be widely shared or distributed for the purpose of generating revenue, or promoting or discrediting a public figure, political movement, company.
UNESCO also explains fake news in three different forms such as:
Disinformation: Information that is false and deliberately created to harm a person, social group, organisation or country
Misinformation: Information that is false but not created with the intention of causing harm
Mal-information: Information that is based on reality, used to inflict harm on a person, social group, organisation or country.
Why should you be careful?
As we live through a pandemic, the implications of spreading fake news can be understood on similar lines of the virus. Just as the virus is transmitted from one person to the other, plaguing millions globally. Fake news also plagues the global community. A single unverified piece of information transmitted could have long-lasting effects on the consumers.
The year 2019 saw an influx of fake news with elections, the Pulwama attack, the scrapping of Article 370 and much more. Despite efforts being taken by social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook. Little was achieved.
Fake news majorly impacts consumers opinions and also creates a false notion about the news media. People may often lose faith in the news.
Youth step up to curb the spread of fake news
Understanding the importance of sharing the correct news and to curb the spread of fake news, various initiatives are being taken.
One such initiative is that by a youth media organisation, Yuvaa. It features influencers like Akash Banerjee, Gurmehar Kaur, Maanvi Gagroo, Nakuul Mehta, Shreya Dhanwanthary and Yahya Bootwala. It also included journalists, namely Meghnad, Raghu Karnad and Shereen Bhan -- all of whom have come together for a single purpose: to put the responsibility and onus of not sharing fake news on ourselves.
Titled 'Oops! I Shared It Again', the song is a parody of Britney Spears' classic, 'Oops!… I Did It Again'. The song has been re-created by Siddhant Bhosle and has been sung by Saba Azad and Siddhant Bhosle.
The song was made to support the initiative 'Share Verified' a campaign against fake news and misinformation.