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