Fake news has become the root and branch of the Indian media. It has existed since the days of the printing press and has grown prodigiously in the modern era of social media and the internet.
There are provisions in the Indian Penal Code that make certain forms of speech a crime, that may be fake news, and may apply to social media or online content. The Information Technology Act, 2000 prohibits the dissemination of information that a person knows to be false, which causes inconvenience, danger, etc., through a computer resource or a communication device. The Supreme Court, in an atypical manner, has struck this provision as unconstitutional.
The IT Act, 2000 and 2011 have established limited immunity against social media and internet companies for any content published by any third person if such content is illegal. It outlandishly provides that due diligence be observed by the intermediary companies for removing such illegal content.
WhatsApp is the main source of fake news distribution in India along with Facebook and Twitter. Over WhatsApp, users exchange information that has been forwarded a plurality of times. It misleads people on social media and also triggers violence around the country.
Spreading misinformation causes stress and confusion among the public as the masses easily believe in such news and view the world based on that information and make their decisions according to it. Sometimes it is made deliberately to misguide the public and it causes an interruption in many fields.
The government used the internet shutdown as a measure to control social media rumours from spreading. The Indian government has used this measure many times to control the spread of fake news. Apart from that, the social media platforms were ordered to remove all information that misleads people and promote authentic information and also make people aware of the actual situation.
Governments around the world consider fake news as a threat to political legitimacy and democratic institutions. Various actions have been taken across the world by different governments, like making laws against the spread of fake news online, blocking social media and other online platforms, making laws against foreign interference in elections, increasing regulation of social media, spreading awareness through campaigns, monitoring on social media and, by promotion of authentic content.
The best method to guarantee the stoppage of the flow of fake news is solid expert reporting and attentiveness among the youngsters, grown-ups, and the citizens.
Although the origin of fake news can be blamed upon a certain section of the public or politico-religious group, we as citizens cannot overlook our hands in this crime. Rationality and reasoning are the tools I believe should be used to fight this war against fake news because it is the lack of these and common sense that is being used by the ‘fake news spreaders.’ Questioning the information and checking for its authenticity is also our duty as a citizen of this country wanting to end this propaganda.