How to avoid falling prey to fake news


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The inquisitive nature of humans is the foundation of our incessant motivation to collect information. It is in fact, this Sapere Aude that resonates with modern media and mass communication that meets our information cravings. A desire to know what's going on is very innate and is clearly the base of news. While pursuing information we often fail to screen it. Often, we fail to think. This is the loophole through which fake news, an illegitimate child of our innate tendency to lie, is born.

Elections are around the corner, colouring the atmosphere with coloured flags and composed slogans. It is during this time that we are prone to the malady of fake news. With the rise of technological interfaces and social media, this trend is on a rise, but false news and rumours existed since time immemorial. The idle gossips in neighbourhood gatherings to carefully planned, political executions, fake news is one exceptional illustration of the ability of human intellect, only in the wrong way.
                     
During elections, propagation of fake news is an effective way of propaganda. This was the case in several elections in the past such as the infamous case during the last presidential elections of America in which Hilary Clinton was depicted in a negative shade by fake news mills like the Macedonian town which created several manipulated content pieces for the elections with a pro-Trump attitude. The fake news had a substantial impact on creating and shaping a general opinion.

The power of fake news is not merely limited to spreading hatred, which sometimes has caused in severe cases like the murder cases reportedly committed in response to fake news spread through different social media, is also extensively used to distract people's attention from wrong things about themselves. This indirectly helps in building and boosting the public persona of the concerned parties while degrading the opposite parties. 

A radical way of fake news and propaganda politics is a form of subliminal persuasion in the form of messages that aren't so easy to catch. Here, we wouldn't be able to pick up anything as intrusive, but there would be subtle messages and subtexts in everything that you read. It is appreciated if you are skeptical of the words that you're reading now. Such skepticism is the only way for us to be equipped against these massive implicit forms of persuasion. 

To be well informed and more importantly informed with refined, non-judgemental information during this election season is not merely a right but also a necessary duty for us. We, as citizens are supposed to be a part of a decision-making process that not only determines the course of national progress in the next five years but also determines the milestones for the future. In a globalised world, where information is monetized, manipulated and monopolized, it is difficult and often unintelligible to expect to be served with unbiased truth. Hence we have the immense responsibility to pay attention. 
                                 
Following few steps can be taken to avoid falling trap to fake news this season:

    Reliability of the source: Make sure that the news is from a very valid, reliable source of information

    Be patient to read the content and avoid getting misled by catchy, yet incomplete headings

    Read and more importantly think about what you read

    Read between the lines: Try to ask why the author holds a particular view; try to understand how authors come to conclusions

    Try to look for symbols, links, etc that are relevant with reliable sources, in case the news articles cite these sources in them

    Be skeptical about any news received via social media. Take time to assess the truth in such messages before forwarding it

Fake news is a global threat these days and as our election is the largest one to be held in recent times, gives ample room for malice such as propagation of propaganda and fake news. The fact that media giants like Facebook has planned to set up their centres near polling booths to avoid circulation of fake news is a positive stride towards curbing the prolific spread of fake news. Though not as big as that, we too can join hands to the mission of truth, thereby enabling safe cyberspace, encouraging the freedom of the press and empowering ourselves with a real right to information.

- Ananda Krishnan

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How to avoid falling prey to fake news How to avoid falling prey to fake news Reviewed by EMN on April 09, 2019 Rating: 5

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