Today, India lies in a high-alert situation, especially the states sharing the border with our neighbouring country Pakistan. Amidst the panic among civilians, social media is bombarding us with a plethora of news, most of which, unfortunately, are false and lack credible sources.
At such a tense juncture where emotions are high, and there is a new update every second, few do realise the extensive implication of a single piece of fake news before circulating it all over the internet. From doctored videos to morphed photos, false claims to distorted statistics – an endless list of fake narratives are floating on all social media platforms for the past few days following the Pulawama terrorist attack.
Fake news in wrong hands
A piece of news might apparently seem to be an innocent piece of information or opinion. So, without a second thought, many of us might share it as it resonates with our personal viewpoints. However, the same news, when it reaches the wrong hands, might trigger devastating consequences.
For instance, a few days ago, a woman shared a piece of information about the Indian army on Facebook, which contradicted the mindset of the majority of her acquaintances. It did not even take a day for her to face death and rape threats, verbal abuse and public shaming. The situation went out of hands when her family members were attacked. Stones were pelted at her house, and hooligans surrounded her house to ‘teach her a lesson’ the moment she steps out.
Be a responsible netizen
A single hashtag which glorifies violence, war and destruction have the potential to spread like wildfire in this digital age. It merely takes seconds for a viral slogan to reverberate in people’s mouths and fuel a full-fledged war.
Due to escalating tensions between India and Pakistan right now, a lot of news and information are yet to be officially verified by government authorities and trusted media agencies. Meanwhile, miscreants are milking the situation to serve their personal interests, by circulation of fake, offensive and provocative fake information. It is easy for any ordinary citizen to fall prey to their petty agenda, as most of these fake news is cautiously drafted, edited and photoshopped to fool people. Here, the netizens must understand that at such a tense time, they are expected to show a sense of responsibility towards the country, even on social media.
How to curb spreading false narratives
On Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, the divide dissolves, and we can directly interact with our counterparts on the other side of the border. Words upon words build up discrimination and spew more and more hatred. At the same time, if someone manages to introduce a piece of false information in such a thread, it is soon treated as an absolute fact without any cross-verification. Soon, it snowballs into a definitive claim which is concretely established in people’s minds. It takes a lot of effort for ethical journalism and the government to convince the agitated and excited masses about the truth.
The bottom line remains what most media houses are requesting over and over again – Not to spread fake news. A better practice is to Google a piece of controversial information to check its credibility, before hitting the share button. Here is a detailed guide about how to prevent spreading fake news, which must be practised during such an edgy scenario.
Efforts For Good requests all their readers to verify the sources before circulating any information on social media surrounding the ongoing Indo-Pak issue. The cumulative power of social media can induce damage beyond our imagination. If we are maintaining our restraints in real life, it is always best to replicate a similar attitude on digital platforms as well.