‘A lie told enough times becomes the truth’. These words by Lenin are more relevant today than ever before! As the Bhima Koregaon violence broke out in Pune earlier this week and spread to Mumbai, social media users went on a rampage sharing photos, videos and misinformation on WhatsApp and Twitter. Finally, Mumbai Police had to issue an advisory asking people to not spread rumours:
"Don't believe or spread rumors, continue with your routine activities. Police administration is geared up to deal with any untoward situation" Mumbai Police advises residents #BhimaKoregaonViolence pic.twitter.com/VC8xBnEfwf
— ANI (@ANI) January 3, 2018
This incident should remind us of the power that fake news and propaganda wields. It can build stereotypes, coerce you to believe in something false, and at times, can also lead to violence.
In the age of social media and encrypted messaging services, a rumour spreads like wildfire, and those responsible for it take advantage of the situation.
And it’s not just the common man. Politicians and world leaders have also fallen prey to fake news. A few months back, Puducherry governor Kiran Bedi shared a video of an old woman doing garba, addressing her as PM Narendra Modi’s mother. She corrected herself after social media users pointed out her mistake.
Fake news and rumours should not be taken lightly — sometimes, these false pieces of information can have devastating consequences. Last year, a WhatsApp rumour about the abduction of children escalated to such a level that it led to the lynching of seven people in Jharkhand.
As young, informed citizens, we must realise our duty to verify any news or information that we receive from an unverified source. We must also take on the responsibility of helping our parents and elders with identifying fake news, as they’re more likely to believe and share it.
So how do we identify the authenticity of a news story or a forwarded message?
To begin with, be wary of every contentious or suspicious message you receive on WhatsApp. Use any search engine to find out whether such news has been covered by trusted news agencies or media publications. If not, the info could very well be false!
Here are some useful websites to help you spot fake news:
1. Alt News
This website continuously puts out articles after fact-checking the information spreading on social media. It also fact-checks all the speeches made by politicians, trying to catch any false information therein.
This is India’s first fact-checking online portal. It has a dedicated team to churn out stories, busting hoaxes spreading on the internet.
3. Social Media Hoax Slayer
As the name suggests, this website helps people identify false information floating around on social media and the internet, including fake news and fraudulent schemes and offers.
This is a helpful tool to track false news — people can submit any piece of information they want to verify, and the website staff does its job and tells them whether it’s fake or not.
With these tools in place, and a little vigilance on our parts, we can bust a rumour before it gets out of hand.
If you found this story useful, do share it on your social media. Have you encountered any fake news lately? Tell us in the comments below.
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Namit is a journalist and adventure sports enthusiast. He divides his time in reading about interesting issues and later writing about them. In his free time, he is most expected to escape to the mountains in search of solitude.