Is it possible to fail fake news industry?
New Delhi, April 16: India is going through an exciting phase of general elections that will decide who would rule the country for the next five years after the results will be out on May 23.
The election not only poses challenges for the political parties but also for the voters, who are being flooded with tones of information within minutes via mobile Internet. In the comparison of 2014, Internet users have increased exponentially in 2019. Though the number of Internet users has increased in India, there are a handful of people out there who are trained to differentiate between fake and credible news.
This is a very disturbing and dangerous hard reality, which has not been given due attention in the country as it demands.
The fake news industry players have the power to influence millions of people within minutes. All they need is a computer with an Internet connection, a few editing software, and a cunning brain. Once they create fake news, it spreads like a contagious disease all over the country, thanks to crores of untrained social media users who share it mindlessly.
By the time the fake news is busted, it achieves its goal. For, the majority of people don't revisit the fake news to verify it and move on to the next interesting piece of information.
The latest example of the fake news is a purported letter written by the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) octogenarian leader Murli Manohar Joshi to another party stalwart Lal Krishan Advani.
The two-page 'fake' letter dated April 11 with multimedia news agency ANI's watermark spread like a virus on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.
People with even a little bit of interest in politics were surprised to read Joshi was telling Advani that the BJP could get only 120 seats in the ongoing Lok Sabha election and only 8-10 of the 91 seats that voted in the first round on April 11, and how both of them were thrown out of the party.
Joshi has denied writing any such letter and approached the Election Commission of India (ECI) urging it to investigate how it surfaced on social media.
Is it easy for the EC or police to trace the origin of the letter? The answer is a Big No as to trace the origin of such fake news would first require the original Internet protocol (IP) address of the machine through which the information was shared for the first time.
With the easy availability of anonymity, or privacy tools such as proxy IP address, it's literally impossible to trace the manufacturer of fake news.
Therefore, this fake news has achieved its goal as the letter was being circulated on WhatsApp despite being busted. This cements a fact that people, even well-educated ones, don't think twice before forwarding fake news.
The menace of fake news can't be killed by policing, but by training. If nobody shares fake information, it won't become fake news.