The internet and social media have revolutionized our lives. But every innovation is bound to have some disadvantages. While there are quite a few disadvantages of the internet, the one that is creating an absolute menace these days is Fake News.
To put it simply, Fake News is not news. It is a false story presented to us as a piece of news, which is nothing but a figment of someone’s imagination.
I know this is a spoon-feeding way of defining it. But unfortunately, this is what is required in today’s times when even the highly educated easily fall for Fake News. For some strange reason, people feel that if something is written on the internet or social media, it has to be true.
The results of believing Fake News can be very serious. It can make an innocent person appear guilty and vice versa. It can also damage the reputation of a person, especially of a celebrity for no fault of his/ her. Just recently, cricketer Hardik Pandya was slammed left, right and center for allegedly insulting Babasaheb Ambedkar when it was his parody account on Twitter that had done that.
So, continuing the same spoon-feeding, let’s have a look at how to identify or detect Fake News. For this, we need to know the various sources from where Fake News can emerge.
When you come across any news item online, do look at the name of the website. Make sure that the website is a proper news website. As far as India is concerned, examples of proper news websites include TheHindu.com, IndianExpress.com, TimesOfIndia.com, HindustanTimes.com, NDTV.com, DNAIndia.com, News18.com, FirstPost.com, DeccanChronicle.com, etc. In other words, it should be a reputed publication.
In today’s era, it is terribly easy to start your own website. It is very cheap too as you can get a domain name for as less as Rs 500. Plus, you can design your website for free too and give it an authentic look. Hence, we see the emergence of fake news websites like Postcard.News, Swarajya.com, etc. Most of these websites tamper actual news or create fake news to promote government as well as religious propaganda and slam those who share opposing ideologies.
What’s App has been the biggest contributor to Fake News. I wonder how people don’t realize that any Tom, Dick and Harry can write absolutely any rubbish on What’s App and forward. Just because it’s written on What’s App doesn’t mean it is true.
Hilarious ‘news’ like ISIS members spreading AIDS by going door-to-door and ‘Jana Gana Mana’ being declared the Best National Anthem by UNESCO (this is being spread even before social media came into existence) are believed at face value just because they are written in a What’s App message.
So, as soon as you read any news related item on What’s App, just do a simple Google search by adding keywords related to that piece of news. For example, if you get a message saying, ‘Shah Rukh Khan’s new movie is titled Zero,’ just search the words ‘Shah Rukh Khan movie Zero’ on Google and if you find the same news on aforementioned proper news websites, only then consider it to be true.
A meme is an image with messages shared on social media and What’s App. It normally has an image of a person with a quote. Sometimes, it has only written matter (like the one in the image on the right). Again, this also can be created by just about anyone.
Fake meme makers always use the kind of a picture that goes well with the comment. Hence, people tend to believe it to be true and keep forwarding, not knowing that they are actually spreading Fake News and damaging someone’s reputation. The same Google search method is to be followed here to know if it’s true.
What if genuine news websites carry fake news?
There are times when even reputed publications commit a faux pass and carry Fake News. So, it is advisable not to believe something published on only one website. Check if it has appeared in few other publications too. Unfortunately, there have been instances where almost all reputed online publications have carried wrong news by adding quotes of a person who has actually not said anything on that topic.
So, if you find an unusual or shocking comment from someone, try to find its video on YouTube or wait for few days to get a clear picture. It will almost always be AltNews.in that will burst the most recent Fake News bubble. It’s the biggest Fake News buster of India, which is run by man called Pratik Sinha.
By: Keyur Seta