It is no secret that in these tense times, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and social media, in general, is proving to be the primary source of information for a lot of the countrymen. The flip-side of that is with it comes a lot of fake news, unverified information and downright rumour mongering. Not all the news and information that you see on these platforms is correct, verified and reliable. This has been proved again today as India and Pakistan are engaged in dogfights in the sky and posturing in TV studios, with a lot of unverified information and fake news doing rounds on Twitter, WhatsApp and other social media channels. You really cannot help but trip over the immense fake news doing rounds on social media over the past few hours.
And this is not new. It has been happening for a while, and the Government of India is already taking up the issue of the fake-news menace on social-media platforms, with Facebook, Google and Twitter in an attempt to create a process that makes it easier to trace the spread of unverified or fake news.
If you are trying to get as much information about the tensions between India and Pakistan, and the military action happening at various locations around the international border and the line of control, it is only normal to fall for the trap of unverified information, simply because it is the first on the scene on social media and is usually packed in a way that you may not be able to identify it as incorrect. This can lead to worse situations, such as panic. Here are some things to keep in mind, as you log in on social media.
Ignore Bulk Messages. If there’s a message you’ve been receiving from multiple channels and contacts, there’s a good chance it’s a hoax. Bulk messages usually tend to serve a goal which in most scenarios, is to rile up users against or for something. Refer to the aforementioned points in case you have trouble judging their authenticity.
Investigate it through other sources too. To evaluate the truth, do a quick online search and cross check with other reliable news websites in order to find out where did the story come from.
Watch for Forwarded Labels. WhatsApp is clearly aware of the spread of fake news, and now labels forwarded messages. Therefore, we would recommend taking messages which are forwarded with a grain of salt because more often than not, they are being circulated without a second thought.
Last but not the least, always wait for an official source to confirm or deny any information that you are seeing on social media or as a WhatsApp forward. This is even more relevant in these tense times, for the government of India or the Indian armed forces to confirm whatever may be packaged as news and spread for consumption on various platforms.
The Facebook-owned messaging service, which has over 200 million users in India, has been since then at the center of a multitude of controversies and is aggressively exploring new ways to curb the fake news wildfire including radio campaigns, research grants, and more. With the increasing instances of Fake News being circulated on WhatsApp, the need to identify the authenticity of messages has never been more crucial than now.
WhatsApp’s struggles in India are further complicated by a significant shift in the nation's approach to foreign technology companies. Government regulators and ministers are calling for increased restrictions on foreign tech giants—Amazon, Facebook, and Google among them—that have come to dominate the Indian internet. YouTube is so large that it could have its own book about how disinformation is being fought against. Main techniques to fight fake news include only suggesting videos that are very likely to be quality content and offering contextual references alongside potentially disputed information. Searching for questionable topics will not yield as many directly relevant suggestions for more videos compared to searching for some excellent computer hardware topics.