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National Importance
Mahesh

03/04/24 05:16 AM IST

fake news, disinformation and fact-checking

In News
  • April 2 marks International Fact-checking Day, a global initiative that recognises the role of accurate information in an interconnected world.
Fake news
  • The University of Michigan Library has defined “fake news” as false news stories, meaning the story itself is fabricated and has no verifiable facts, sources or quotes.
  • Sometimes these stories may be propaganda, intentionally designed to mislead the reader, or they may be “clickbait”.
  • Simply, it means that some websites might want to increase the clicks and visitors they get, so they publish fake or sensationalised stories to attract attention.
  • Cambridge Dictionary defines fake news as, “false stories that appear to be news, spread on the internet or using other media, usually created to influence political views or as a joke”
  • Misinformation is false information, but the person who shares it online believes it to be true and shares it without any ill intention or personal agenda.
  • Disinformation is false information, and the person who is disseminating it knows it is false. It is a deliberate lie.
Fact checking
  • The Oxford Dictionary defines “fact-checking” as a process of seeking to “investigate (an issue) in order to verify the facts”.
  • It’s akin to the idiom, “Get your facts straight”.
  • It means that one has verified the facts they are asserting, say by checking the facts and figures one sees on social media before sharing it.
Significance
  • lead to polarisation or shifting of people’s views towards more extreme ideas, often along religious or ethnic lines.
  • mislead people on important issues
  • harden attitudes and stereotypes about individuals or groups
  • trigger riots in extreme cases and add fuel to fire in violent situations
  • Therefore, fact-checking matters.
Misinformation
  • Some factors include the democratisation of mass communication tools, which are now available to the average person.
  • This includes widely available internet connections and cheap data plans that have enabled people to access social media easily.
  • While increasing connectivity has its benefits undoubtedly, problems arise as many first-time internet users lack media literacy – learning how to consume or interpret news and knowing what to believe.
  • In India, misinformation is thriving in regional languages in particular, as they are away from the scrutiny of the English or Hindi mainstream media that have more resources for fact-checking.
  • However, mainstream media has also fallen for misinformation on many occasions in a bid to break news instantly on digital or broadcast platforms.
Checking of information
  • Check the source: Always check who has shared the post, and what could be the intention behind it.
  • Check the news stories on other outlets: If the post is related to current events or even the upcoming elections, check credible news media organisations to see if they have carried the news too.
  • Verify images: Sometimes the images shared on social media platforms are either edited or shared out of context. To check their source, you can use Google reverse image search. First, download the image. Then go to https://images.google.com/ and click the camera icon near the Search bar. Upload the image. Google will then show its possible sources where the image appeared.
  • Rely on fact-checking websites: Fact-checking websites ensure misinformation shared on social media platforms is checked regularly. It is advisable to check them before re-sharing questionable posts.
Source- Indian Express

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