Fake news is India\'s latest pandemic, says Cong. social media chief

HYDERABAD: Congress’ social media and digital platform chief Supriya Shrinate on Monday called the proliferation of fake news the country’s biggest pandemic, listing out the challenges and consequences it posed, at the 11th edition of Manthan Samvaad on Monday.

She displayed a picture of Mahatma Gandhi dancing with a woman, which was later revealed to be an actor playing Gandhi at the Met Gala. Similarly, another doctored picture showed former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as a womaniser, while a picture of Miva Jolly hugging Rahul Gandhi was highlighted to claim Jolly raised pro-Pakistan slogans, while it was another person, Amulya Leona.

Claiming that misinformation was deliberate and served to manipulate public opinion, she said the impact can have adverse effects on the country, given that there are 60 crore active Internet users, 54 crore WhatsApp users, and crores on other platforms.

“Fake news distracts from critical issues… the objective is to discredit, divide, and divert attention from real issues,” she said, hinting at the BJP.

She called for a united effort to counter the menace, citing the responsibility of fact-checkers, media houses, and individuals alike.

“Everyone needs to be vigilant against the spread of fake news, each of us is the vaccine against this growing epidemic,” she said.

She also critiqued corporate control of media, stating it contributed to the decline in quality journalism.

Shrinate also underscored the importance of a clear legal framework to tackle fake news on social media platforms, adding that freedom of speech should not infringe on others' rights. “Your freedom of speech ends at my nose,” she said.

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