Surveys on Fake News In The Times Of Covid 19

In our current climate of the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, it is not just the deadly virus, which has become a menace, but also the increasing spread of misinformation and disinformation on social media platforms. Social Media Matters has been instrumental in challenging and breaking the chain of this spread. The information boom has been accompanied by a parallel rise in the dissemination of false news, sometimes done willingly and sometimes unknowingly.

So, as an organization primarily working on the safety of online spaces and sensitizing people to use them more productively, our Team at Social Media Matters organized a webinar to discuss the unprecedented rise of Fake news. We discussed the impact it has on the populous, what are the triggers, and finally, any solution or mechanisms that can be used to mitigate the harm caused by the diffusion of wrong information. In this webinar, we had eminent members from the technology sector who shared expert knowledge with us, Trushar Barot from Facebook India, HR Venkatesh from BOOMLive, Ashish Jaiman from Microsoft, Manish Tiwari from Institute of Governance, Policies and Politics, Pratishtha Arora from Social Media Matters and Arnika Singh from Youth Online Learning Opportunities. We will briefly take you through the highlights of this very enlightening session.

Highlights of the Session:

Our discussion primarily revolved around the survey ‘ Circulation of Fake News through Social Media amidst the pandemic' that we conducted in the month of May in collaboration with IGPP. Dr. Manish Tiwari from IGPP helped us in the collection and analysis of data that we collected from all across the nation. Out of the 3572 respondents that we surveyed, we noticed a right gender balance with women comprising 56% of the respondents. Also, we saw that most of the respondents were within the age group of 18-25 years from the data that we collected. This helped us realize that most of our respondents were youth who were mostly active online and thus more vulnerable. Our study showed us that 88.41% of fake news was transmitted through the platform of WhatsApp, 42% through Facebook, and then followed by other platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. However, one of the most exciting findings of our research survey was that most people have become aware of the presence and circulation of fake news. A few years back, people were mostly unaware of this phenomenon. But, what was sad was that 70% of the respondents said that they don’t report fake news. That is one significant gap that our study focused on. People reported that they find the process of reporting difficult, and they mostly do not know how to do it.

Mr. Trushar, one of our panelists, agreed that in the current times, we do see an increase in the awareness about misinformation and fact-checking. He spoke about how Facebook has partnered with 60 fact-checking organizations globally and does it in 45 languages. This tool enables people to get notified whenever they view Facebook's content that has been flagged as fake. Data show that 95% of the time when people are informed about the fakeness of content, they refrain from sharing it. During this pandemic, Facebook has come up with Covid-19 Information Centre to verify all issues related to the virus.

Ashish Jaiman, another panelist, threw light on the responsibilities that these platforms should take to prevent the spread of fake news. He also spoke about the need to increase media literacy to help the populous develop a critical eye to know what story to believe and what not to. We also had HR Ventakesh from BoomLive spoke about his project ‘Media Buddhi’ acting as a tool to educate people on this phenomenon. Further, he threw light on how these ‘half-truth’, ‘allegations’ and ‘hints’ often get mixed with geopolitics, hyper-nationalism, caste ad religious discrimination, all of which have tremendous negative and at times violent implications.

Finally, one of our Co-founder and team members of this survey, Pratishtha Arora, spoke about her experience in the process and how Social Media Matters has embarked on a new chapter ‘Youth Online Learning Opportunities’ (YOLO). One of the leading projects taken up by YOLO is #MyPincode Groups. We have started 739 Facebook groups in all districts of the country to make sure that only verified, and authentic hyper-local information reaches every nook and corner of the country.

How to report Fake News:

The second portion of the session mainly focused on the challenges people and platforms face when it comes to reporting false news. Let’s take a quick look as to how we can report any content which we know is false.

For Facebook:
  1. Click on the three dots on the top right-hand corner of the post that you have detected as false.
  2. Click on Find Support or Report post
  3. Click on False news
Note: The process mentioned is for desktop only, options on phone may vary.

For Instagram:
  1. Click on the three dots on the top right-hand corner of the post that you have detected as false.
  2. Click on report
  3. Click on inappropriate
  4. Click on False Information
Note: The process mentioned is for desktop only, options on phone may vary.

A move towards a better, a safer society So, we can agree that Fake News is like a wrecking ball, but with time we are becoming more aware and better equipped to dismantle it. Some are calling it information pollution, and some are saying it is an information disorder. The question is whether you and I will fight this battle to cleanse the information ecosystem. We see a positive trend as more and more people are coming forward to fill the subjective gap that technology is still trying to overcome in its attempt to fight fake news. Report responsibly and help keep the online space and our society safe.

English: Surveys Report on Fake News In The Times Of Covid 19

Hindi: Surveys Report on Fake News In The Times Of Covid 19
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