Whatsapp is a word which hardly needs any introduction. It is probably the most used and the most efficient platform used by people for connectivity all over the world. Since it is easy to use, and is available free of cost with numerous features, it gained popularity quick and presently it has risen to become the favorite among people. On one hand this messaging platform has played a vital role in bringing people closer to each other and on the other hand Whatsapp also accounts for a variety of fake news being circulated throughout. Although Whatsapp has continuously been vocal about stopping the spread of unauthorized information, sadly the trend still continues.
HARMS OF MISINFORMATION
The ultimate freedom of social media has also made it susceptible to misinformation and thus spreading of rumors and fake news. India is a country of different communities. Topics like nationality, religion, castes, politics etc instigate people very soon. In such a situation, one message can be enough to spread hate. There are instances of brutal violence too all because of an unauthorized text message, image or video circulated among people. “In 2018, PanjuriKachari, a small village in Assam, witnessed one of the most gruesome cases of lynching. The smartphone footage which went viral, showed two blood-soaked men pleading for their lives, moments later they were dead. These two men who were from Guwahati were beaten to death by a crazed village mob wielding bamboo sticks, machetes, and rocks, as they were mistaken to be child kidnappers.”
Apart from spreading unnecessary hate, Whatsapp is also unaccountable for spreading wrong information. We all can acknowledge that we have received at least one test message which talks about a cure for a certain disease. We might also have received a text about our nation/national anthem being declared as the best in the world. There also are certain videos which claim witnessing a ‘miracle’. People fall in trap of such receipts and blindly forward them without actually knowing the truth and authenticity behind them. While they might be doing it innocently, without an evil motive behind it the viewers actually might believe in them and get highly misled. That’s the reason why Whatsapp is mockingly known as the ULTIMATE FREE UNIVERSITY OF INDIA!
STEPS TO CURB THE SPREAD OF FAKE NEWS
• Awareness– Whatsapp has actively held many campaigns to let people beware of the circulation of such media. The company has requested users repeatedly to double check the facts before forwarding it to someone else. Ad films have also been launched by the company to alert the users about the consequences of spreading fake news.
• ‘Forwarded’ symbol– Whatsapp had launched feature of displaying the label of ‘forwarded’ to determine whether the message is drafted or it has come from someone else.
• Edited media– Whatsapp also encourages users to be careful about the photos, audios and video recordings which are edited in order to mislead others.
• The Law– The Controller can extend decryption of information facilities to any agency for intercepting any information transmitted through any computer resource. The person-in-charge of the computer resource shall, when called upon by any agency extend all facilities and technical assistance to decrypt the information.
The spread of fake news via Whatsapp or any other social media is a far more serious issue than we consider it to be. As it is already mention, it can not only corrupt the minds of people not only with wrong information but also with communal hatred which might end in taking the life of someone. We as users need to be alert enough to save ourselves from believing in any kind information received without knowing the credibility of the same. We also have to be aware lest we should share any false content which may lead to misconceptions and further troubles for others.