Hyderabad: New users fall prey to fake news

Messages are mostly politically, religiously charged.

Hyderabad: An extensive survey-based study, ‘Countering Misinformation (Fake News) in India’, has found that people below the age of 20 or those above 50 are the most susceptible to fake news. Those who are relatively new to the internet and smartphones may be more susceptible, it said.

The survey done by Factly, a city-based independent portal for public information, and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) studied 891 respondents across India.

Data was collected to understand the kind of information Indians consume on a daily basis through different social media avenues. It studied the attitude towards understanding why they forward messages that they have received on social media without verifying its authenticity or source.

According to the findings, the main distribution platforms for ‘unverified information’ in India are WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter. Google Search, Facebook and other platforms limit the content that can be viewed, creating an atmosphere that is polarised and partisan. A large number of messages are either politically or religiously charged messages. It was found that the source of content is a small percentage of people, who spread and share messages as part of propaganda.

Mr Rakesh Reddy D., founder of Factly, said, “A majority of people share and spread unverified information because of the availability of the information. Most of the time, the content in circulation is politically and religiously charged. In spite of growing technology penetration, there are no structures or curriculum at the ground level to create awareness and understanding of digital content.”

He said that it had been found that political parties were leveraging the pace of digital content production and grooming an informal base that created and spread messages to suit their campaign agenda, regardless of whether the messages were factually accurate.

Experts said that it was time to terminate the term ‘fake news’ and develop a standard glossary that defines information as ‘manipulative, decisive, mis-interpreted context’.

“In spite of growing technology penetration, a substantial percentage of people are not aware of the existence of fact checking organisations thus leading to spread of fake news.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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