EDITORIAL | Of Fake News and Social Media

While social media provides unprecedented access to information and a space to engage and interact, it also has a huge potential for disinformation to manipulate public opinion and, is also a weapon to incite violence and create tension.
EDITORIAL | Of Fake News and Social Media
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FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK:

Social media is a double-edged sword that cuts deep either way irrespective of whether it’s good or bad. We can all agree that social media has given a fresh voice for the youth and provided a space in which previously marginalised groups can express their views and lobby for change.

However, while social media provides unprecedented access to information and a space to engage and interact, it also has a huge potential for disinformation to manipulate public opinion and, is also a weapon to incite violence and create tension.

Republic Day violence is a perfect example of the misuse of social media. The farmers’ tractor march on January 26 took an ugly turn after “fake news” concerning the death of one protestor, shared by a renowned journalist, flooded social media platforms.

Let us not get into the details of what happened or who to blame for the series of events that transpired on that day.

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Let us, instead, focus on the large role played by technology in making a mountain out of a molehill while not downplaying the gravity of the situation and seriousness of the R-Day farmers’ parade.

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, stated that fair and truthful reporting is normally not a problem. The problem is when it is used to agitate others.

The apex court also slammed the Centre for not doing anything to curb TV programmes which have instigating effects and said that control over such news is as important as any other preventive measure to check law and order.

As journalists, we are trying to overcome this modern-day challenge which can create a lot of hues and cries apart from doing more damage than good.

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True, social media has proven to be of great help for journalists as it is a powerful tool to capture information flow, gauge public opinion, and disseminate news.

But it also has the potential to incite violence and disharmony (based on the angle we take or headlines we provide) and like the apex court rightfully remarked: It can be used to agitate others.

It is a challenge indeed to try our level best to tone down the words we use while we present the facts.

It is our moral duty to present the facts as they are. We should not let our personal opinions and emotions get in the way because our reports can shape the way readers and viewers perceive the news.

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