“Just stick with us, don't believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news” – Donald Trump
At the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention, Donald Trump popularised 'Fake News' with the aforementioned comments.
The buzz about its meaning and implications is now a discourse of its own.
It currently has two meanings. One it denotes news is false.
Facebook proudly proclaims the shutdown of accounts that they claim to be spreading fake news. The social media behemoth prefers to term this phenomena as 'false news'. The other terminology that suits the idea of fake news talks about news that is a 'lie'.
The main intention of this kind of news is to deceive the reader and build a propaganda.
On the contrary, fake news in the field of politics is a mess of conflicting meanings.
The 'Digital India' programme of the Indian government has build a community with dissolving boundaries.
Connecting over 1,365,977,412 people from east to west and north to south, India just got embedded in a domain.
With cheap mobile connectivity and internet data, the vistas of unlimited access opened up for all and sundry.
In the debate about the effects of social media and politics, which is trending, India is a relatively new entrant.
Through the eyes of an optimist, social media becomes a platform for all to be a citizen journalist, wherein the public gets an active role in nation building and governance. The social media thus transforms into a platform for all.
Both the dominant political parties in the country strives to reach out and influence maximum number of people employing various methods. India has 200 million WhatsApp users, making it the Facebook-owned company's biggest market. Facebook itself has 281 million users in India, thus making these platforms highly effective, especially to spread political agenda.
Political leaders build reputations and promote ideologies through these platforms.
In this chaos, it becomes hard for the readers to distinguish between true and the false news.
Even today despite social media giants' attempt to curb fake news, an equal amount of content flood in to the space to create a viral content strong enough to demolish the truth.
Replacing the 'paid news' of 2014 election, 2019 is fighting the 'fake news'.
India's fight against fake news began with mob lynching case that killed around 31 people during 2017-2018.
And now it is the battle ground for key political parties.
In April 2019, Facebook took efforts to fight the spread of fake news ahead of the Lok Sabha election.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party turned its attention to 900 million voters as their major target audience.
Unlike the foreign interference in 2016 US election, Indian cyber techies fear the amount of fake news sent out by political parties and their supporters.
Facebook recently took down 687 pages and accounts backed by Congress- the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, on the grounds of 'coordinated inauthentic behaviour'. On the other hand, a Facebook user shared a recording of a purported call by BJP president Amit Shah which said: “We agree that for election, we need a war”.
This recording was posted to portray that the political party was engaged in violence in order to win the war. This was later flagged as a fake post.
These posts trigger communal tension and triggers violence.
Even if the news has been debunked, we choose to believe what we want to believe. The influence of each slice of news is deep and hence it is essential to curb fake news.