Fake News Fi­asco

While the fast grow­ing tech­nol­ogy has nu­mer­ous ben­e­fits, it also has many draw­backs.

Alive - - Contents - by Ma­haraaj K. Koul

Sam­ple this: 2 April 2018 (9:03 PM):

The In­for­ma­tion and Broad­cast­ing min­istry re­leases a cir­cu­lar amend­ing guide­line for ac­cred­i­ta­tion of jour­nal­ists. It said a jour­nal­ist’s ac­cred­i­ta­tion could be sus­pended or can­celled on charges of writ­ing/broad­cast­ing fake news

3 April (12:17 PM):

Irani in­vites jour­nal­ist bod­ies and ‘in­ter­ested jour­nal­ists’ to of­fer ‘sug­ges­tions’ on fight­ing fake news

3 April (12:45 PM):

Prime Min­is­ter or­ders with­drawal of di­rec­tive. Says mat­ter must be ad­dressed by the Press Coun­cil of In­dia

Thus, within 16 hours, the fi­asco ended, hope­fully

PM Naren­dra Modi may have put the lid on I&B min­istry’s threat to with­draw ac­cred­i­ta­tion of jour­nal­ists in a bid sup­pos­edly to con­tain fake news. But at­tempts to ex­ploit the fake news scare to sup­press me­dia free­dom are by no means buried. A few months back the Va­sund­hara Raje gov­ern­ment in Ra­jasthan sought to bring in a law that would curb me­dia from in­ves­ti­gat­ing public ser­vants. And now the Me­hbooba Mufti gov­ern­ment in Jammu & Kash­mir ap­pears to have bor­rowed from I&B Min­is­ter Sm­riti Irani’s play­book by lodg­ing an FIR against a re­porter on stone pel­ters in­jur­ing tourists.

The in­ci­dent high­lights the dan­gers of gov­ern­ments ar­ro­gat­ing to them­selves the right to de­ter­mine what con­sti­tutes fake new, if any such il­lus­tra­tion was needed. The Me­hbooba-led gov­ern­ment is right to be con­cerned about at­tacks on tourists, as it could dry up the flow of more vis­i­tors and hurt the econ­omy. But the prob­lem can’t be ad­dressed by curb­ing the free­dom of main­stream me­dia to re­port on events. That would lead not to the elim­i­na­tion but to the dom­i­nance of fake news and ru­mours as there will be lit­tle else to chal­lenge them.The I&B min­istry’s now-re­called ‘fake news’ or­der came in for sharp

“Fake news is a process that can­not be left to the gov­ern­ment to ini­ti­ate ac­tion when, on many oc­ca­sions, gov­ern­ments and par­ties in power are charged with prop­a­gat­ing fake news them­selves,” it said. And, news or­gan­i­sa­tions aren’t the only source of gen­er­a­tion of fake news. With the coun­try awash with dig­i­tal plat­forms of all hues and opin­ions that op­er­ated with­out con­straints and which had the po­ten­tial to cause far more dam­age.”

crit­i­cism from the Edi­tors Guild of In­dia, which con­demned the move as “ar­bi­trary” and an at­tempt by the gov­ern­ment to “po­lice the me­dia.” As­sert­ing that the Guild stood for the “high­est jour­nal­is­tic stan­dards and that it was will­ing to work with gov­ern­ments and me­dia bod­ies to define ‘fake news’ and act against those found guilty, the body said the move would have opened the doors for friv­o­lous com­plaints and harass­ment of me­dia.

The edi­tors col­lec­tive, led by Raj Chen­gappa, noted that gov­ern­ment and par­ties in power were very of­ten charged with cre­at­ing and prop­a­gat­ing ‘fake news’ them­selves. “The Guild also points out that fake news is a process that can­not be left to the gov­ern­ment to ini­ti­ate ac­tion when, on many oc­ca­sions, gov­ern­ments and par­ties in power are charged with prop­a­gat­ing fake news them­selves,” it said. And, news or­gan­i­sa­tions aren’t the only source of gen­er­a­tion of fake news. With the coun­try awash with dig­i­tal plat­forms of all hues and opin­ions that op­er­ated with­out con­straints and which had the po­ten­tial to cause far more dam­age, the Guild noted.

Catch it

It is im­por­tant to dis­tin­guish be­tween fake news cre­ated and dis­sem­i­nated con­sciously de­spite full knowl­edge of it be­ing false and in­ac­cu­rate re­port­ing where er­rors in news cov­er­age some­times creep in by mis­take, but with­out any mal-in­tent. Such er­rors can al­ways be cor­rected and it is im­por­tant to define fake news ac­cu­rately. or­gan­i­sa­tions like the Press Coun­cil of In­dia (for news­pa­pers) and the News Broad­cast­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (for TV chan­nels) al­ready ex­ist to en­sure press ac­count­abil­ity. Fake news is ‘news’ that’s been cre­ated know­ing it isn’t true. Un­like in­ac­cu­rate re­port­ing, which news­pa­pers by and large cor­rect and/or apol­o­gise for, fake news isn’t ac­ci­den­tal or a gen­uine mis­take. It isn’t even bias, its plain false pur­pose­fully

crafted to mis­lead.

There is no uni­ver­sally ac­knowl­edged def­i­ni­tion of fake news. A re­cent pa­per, The Sci­ence of Fake News pub­lished in the jour­nal Sci­ence de­fined fake news as “fab­ri­cated in­for­ma­tion that mim­ics news me­dia con­tent in form but not in or­gan­i­sa­tional process or in­tent.” An­other def­i­ni­tion was pro­vided by Claire War­dle of First Draft, a UKbased non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion that is part of the Shoren­stein Cen­tre on Me­dia, Pol­i­tics and Public Pol­icy at Har­vard Univer­sity’s Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment. In an ar­ti­cle en­ti­tles Fake News, It’s Com­pli­cated, she cat­e­gorised mis­in­for­ma­tion or dis­in­for­ma­tion into seven cat­e­gories: satire or par­ody; mis­lead­ing con­tent; im­poster con­tent (where gen­uine sources are im­per­son­ated); fab­ri­cated con­tent; false con­nec­tion (where head­lines, vi­su­als or cap­tions) don’t sup­port the con­tent); false con­text (where gen­uine in­for­ma­tion is shared with false con­tex­tual in­for­ma­tion); and, ma­nip­u­lated con­tent (where gen­uine con­tent is ma­nip­u­lated in or­der to de­ceive).

Twit­ter on fake news

Colin Crow­ell, vi­cepres­i­dent, Global Public Pol­icy & Phi­lan­thropy, Twit­ter, was re­cently in In­dia. To a ques­tion on why Twit­ter doesn’t have a fake news pol­icy, he told the press that what peo­ple call fake news re­quires def­i­ni­tion. “Fake news can some­times mean news that peo­ple dis­agree with,” he said. It can also be in­for­ma­tion that’s in­ac­cu­rate but may have been in­no­cently mis­taken (for ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion). “What we are most con­cerned about is ma­li­cious dis­in­for­ma­tion where in­tent is to de­ceive. But we don’t be­lieve we should be in the po­si­tion to de­cide what is truth and false­hood.

We be­lieve that jour­nal­ists have the role of be­ing truth tell­ers and hold­ing public of­fi­cials ac­count­able on be­half of the broader com­mu­nity,” added Crow­ell.

Macron touched Modiʼs feet!

Some videos on YouTube claim French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron greeted Prime Min­is­ter Modi in Paris in June 2017 by touch­ing his feet. It is a false claim but just one of th­ese videos has re­ceived close to 13 lakh views. “France ke pres­i­dent ne Modi ke pair chhoo kar liya aashir­wad, Modi ji ne utha kar ga­ley laga liya,” says the video ti­tle.

If the Modi – Macron claim was plain mis­chief,

other claims are ne­far­i­ous. In March 2018, Karen Re­belo, fact-checker are re­porter at news Web­site ‘BoomLive’, found two un­re­lated videos — one from Bangladesh and an­other from Ra­jasthan — were shared to­gether and pre­sented as scenes of com­mu­nal un­rest in the west­ern In­dia state as a re­sult of a tem­ple be­ing at­tacked. Th­ese were shared across so­cial me­dia plat­forms. Some In­ter­net-sleuthing re­vealed that the two videos were un­re­lated.

While Face­book and Twit­ter usu­ally get blamed for spread­ing fake news, plenty of un­re­li­able videos are cir­cu­lat­ing on YouTube as well. “It is easy to down­load a video from YouTube and share it else­where. What goes vi­ral on one plat­form, goes vi­ral on others as well,” says Pratik Sinha, founder of ‘Alt­news.in’, a fake newswatch Web­site. YouTube has over 22 crore monthly ac­tive users on mo­bile in In­dia, many of whom rely heav­ily on videos as data plans are cheap.

Cy­ber crim­i­nals have latched onto the no­tion of fake news and turned it into a prof­itable busi­ness model, with ser­vices start­ing at un­der $10 in the US, say se­cu­rity re­searchers. The on­line se­cu­rity firm Dig­i­tal Shad­ows re­leased a re­port high­light­ing ser­vices aimed at cre­at­ing bo­gus me­dia Web­sites, fake re­views and so­cial me­dia bots or au­to­mated ac­counts to pro­mote or den­i­grate com­mer­cial prod­ucts and ser­vices.

“Live spoof” sites

One of the meth­ods used is cre­at­ing bo­gus or spoofed me­dia Web­sites de­signed to look like those of le­git­i­mate news or­gan­i­sa­tions. The re­searchers also un­cov­ered some 2,800 “live spoof” sites. This can be done by chang­ing a sin­gle let­ter in a Web ad­dress to cre­ate a fake ‘clone’ of a le­git­i­mate news or­gan­i­sa­tion site. Some crim­i­nals use the same meth­ods as Rus­si­abased pro­pa­gan­dists — mod­i­fy­ing le­git­i­mate doc­u­ments and leak­ing them as part of dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns, the re­port said.

Alarmed by the pro­lif­er­a­tion of false con­tent on­line, law­mak­ers in the US are push­ing schools to put more em­pha­sis on teach­ing

While Face­book and Twit­ter usu­ally get blamed for spread­ing fake news, plenty of un­re­li­able videos are cir­cu­lat­ing on YouTube as well. “It is easy to down­load a video from YouTube and share it else­where. What goes vi­ral on one plat­form, goes vi­ral on others as well,” says Pratik Sinha, founder of ‘Alt­news.in’, a fake news-watch Web­site. YouTube has over 22 crore monthly ac­tive users on mo­bile in In­dia.

stu­dents how to tell fact from fic­tion. Law­mak­ers in sev­eral states have in­tro­duced or passed bills call­ing on public school sys­tems to do more to teach me­dia lit­er­ary skills that they say are crit­i­cal to democ­racy.

Ear­lier it was said a jour­nal­istʼs ac­cred­i­ta­tion could be can­celled on charges of writ­ing or broad­cast­ing fake news.

Fake news is­nʼt ac­ci­den­tal or a gen­uine mis­take.

Me­hbooba Mufti gov­ern­ment in Jammu & Kash­mir lodged an FIR against a re­porter on stone pel­ters in­jur­ing tourists.

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