Thousands of livestreaming videos on Facebook, Tiktok, Instagram, twitter which go viral on these platforms let consumers instant information about an happening before it is published on news websites. But the authenticity of these videos and stories can be contested.
By Kanishk Gaur
As the world battles a pandemic, the biggest source of information are digital channels. However, the bigger issue with digital sources is verification. Today, social media platforms are a bigger source of information than news websites or journals. Thousands of livestreaming videos on Facebook, Tiktok, Instagram, twitter which go viral on these platforms let consumers instant information about an happening before it is published on news websites. But the authenticity of these videos and stories can be contested.
“We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO at a gathering in Germany, in mid- February. Fake news related to the virus has already spread across many nations, and the entire world is witnessing a high level of engagement.
Misinformation and fake news can create a deep impact on society. India’s social media was already trending with information concerning coronavirus even before it registered its very first case. With maximum number of internet users residing in India, major digital channels like Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter and Tiktok saw an exponential increase in users accessing and sharing unverified content.
As per an ongoing report by the reality checking site BOOM, Covid-19 related fake news which started moving in the third week of March took an enormous spike towards the beginning of April, especially after the Tablighi Jamaat episode in Delhi. Out of 178 actuality checks the site led since the beginning of Covid-19 in India, 35% of them were fake video recordings, 29% pictures and a comparative rate were doctored messages.
With so much of unverified content present in the digital space, the government, media and public must be in coordination to combat fake news and the coronavirus.
False claims and fake news have also led to several cases of communal violence, hate speeches and other discriminatory activities, while cyber frauds are also on the rise with fraudster seeking to take advantage of the crisis. With so much of unverified content present in the digital space, the government, media and public must work in coordination to combat fake news.
The recent trend circulating on social media platforms called as the ‘George Floyd Challenge’ is an example of how violent videos on social media impact children and teenager. There are thousands of videos and photos viral of teenagers posing for photos while kneeling on their friends’ necks. Hence, there is a need for social media platforms to monitor extremist content which showcases death or fatal injury to an individual especially those belonging to minorities community as it may result in physical backlash, violent protests and law and order situation.
(With research inputs from Varun Mankoti)
The author is founder, India Future Foundation. Views are personal