Seemingly there is lots of fake news on the Internet and social networking and publishing platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Washington Post, New York Times, Buzz feed news and CNN have decided to tackle the menace of “fake” news.
When a publishing platform is accessible to everybody then of course everybody wants to publish whatever comes to his or her mind and this may also involve lots of phony news or fake news – bits and pieces of misinformation that people publish either to spread misinformation and keep people misinformed or they just thing that the piece of fake news that they have got is real news.
The only problem is that all these agencies and organisations that have taken the mantle of deciding what is fake news and what is real news haven’t exactly had an unbiased reputation. Publications like New York Times and Washington Post are highly left-centric. Buzz feed News mostly seems to publish news items and articles catering to particular political and ideological interests. Recently it was found that Facebook was trying to curb freedom of expression of Republican candidates and many of its employees believe that Facebook needs to thwart Trump’s political career. Twitter constantly deactivates accounts and manipulates trends not suitable to a particular category of people.
The good thing about the Internet is that there are lots of alternative opinions and almost everybody can express alternative opinions and many of such opinions are deemed as “fake” by the so-called reputed newspapers and magazines. Here in India, the moment people start questioning journalists they begin to be labelled as “trolls”. You’re constantly labelled as communal, homophobic, anti-women, racial, sexist and whatnot simply for raising legitimate questions.
On the other hand, as Internet becomes a serious medium and widely used, the sort of information that is spread needs to be monitored by an unbiased agency. For example, after the Nice attack in France there were numerous Twitter and Facebook posts praising the truck attack. Violent propaganda is constantly managed on Twitter and Facebook by Islamists and other extremist organisations. If there is a collective body to monitor and censor such content, these violent organisations won’t be able to spread hatred using one of the strongest, communication medium human civilisation has ever had access to. It’s a double-edged sword.