Supreme Court asks Centre to create a mechanism to deal with the menace of fake news on television channels and other media. (The Hindu)
What is fake news?
“Fake news” is a term used to refer to fabricated news which sometimes very closely mimic real news in order to create deliberately misinform and to deceive the reader. These are created to run particular political agenda and to influence the people for their personal benefits.
Fake news on social media has a massive impact on the opinions of people across the world. According to a report by Indo-Asian News Service (2018), A significant portion of such messages revolves around the basic idea of nationalism and nation-building. As a result the the facts become less important for the users than the emotional desire to bolster their national identity.
A fake news can be spreaded through social networking sites like whtsapp Facebook or Twitter and, television networks, media or through print media.
Examples related to fake news:
- Misinformation related to coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is in the form of social media messages related to home remedies that have not been verified, fake advisories and conspiracy theories
- 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, which claimed over 60 lives and displaced thousands, were fueled by videos circulated on WhatsApp
- Child kidnapping rumors lead to lynching’s by a mob in Jharkhand
What are the causes of fake news?
- Lack of ethics and sense of responsibilities among media houses: in order to gain higher Television rating points (TRP) and viewership, some media channels deliberately fabricate and run propaganda. They keep aside their work and professional ethics which cost the national integration and communal harmony.
- To gain the political advantages some fake websites are created to influence the targeted audiences.
- With the rise of social media penetration among the common masses and its decentralization creates the hurdles in tracing and tracking of fake news.
- Polarization of societies among different ideologies and seeded communalism, make the society more prone to the adaptation of fake news.
- Lack of centralized regulatory body in order to trace and curb the curb the fake news.
Laws and Regulation to Curb Fake News in India
There is need to establish the right balance between freedom of speech and expression and curbing the fake news. As a result, government has taken number of measures to check fake news.
- In November 2019, the Indian ministry of information and broadcasting planned to set up a FACT checking module to counter the circulation of fake news by continuous monitoring of online news sources and publicly visible social media posts. The module will work on the four principles of "Find, Assess, Create and Target" (FACT).
- End of 2019, the Press Information Bureau (which comes under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) set up a fact-checking unit which would focus on verifying news related to the government.
- Civil or Criminal Case for Defamation is another resort against fake news for individuals and groups hurt by the fake news. IPC Section 499 (defamation) and 500 (whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both) provide for a defamation suit.
- News Broadcasters Association (NBA) represents the private television news and current affairs broadcasters. The self-regulatory body probes complaints against electronic media.
- Press Council of India : It is a statutory, adjudicating organization in India formed in 1966 by its parliament. It is the self-regulatory watchdog of the press, for the press and by that operates under the Press Council Act of 1978. It keeps watch on paid news and can warn, admonish or censure the newspaper, the news agency, the editor or the journalist or disapprove the conduct of the editor or the journalist if it finds that a newspaper or a news agency has violated journalistic ethics
- Section 66 in The Information Technology Act, 2000: If any person, dishonestly or fraudulently, does any act referred to in section 43 (damage to computer, computer system), he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees or with both.
Way forward to check fake news?
- Government should take active measures for promoting awareness among people about fake news and their consequences.
- Public should inform concerned department about any fake post as soon as they come across.
o Need to establish a centralized statutory authority to regulate the fakes news while adhering to the strict norms and punishment to law violators.
- NGO?s and other civil society groups can play important role in spreading awareness about the ill effects of fake news.
- Accountability of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter etc are need to be ensured,.
- Using Artificial Intelligence: The artificial intelligence technologies, particularly machine learning and natural language processing, might be leveraged to combat the fake news problem. AI technologies hold promise for significantly automating parts of the procedure human fact checkers use today to determine if a story is real or a hoax.