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People Feel Exposed to Fake News on Social Media, Says Study

The researchers said that when disinformation campaigns challenge access to reliable information, citizens are left to make “uninformed choices”

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carbon, digital
Multiple apps are displayed on an iPhone in New York. VOA

A new study has revealed that the more people feel they are exposed to fake news on social media on a regular basis, the more they are likely to distrust the media in general.

The study’s findings, published in the African Journalism Studies journal, revealed that places such as sub-Saharan Africa, where disinformation campaigns have been used recently to influence electoral campaigns, perceive that exposure to disinformation is high and trust in national media and social media is low.

For the study, the researchers included nearly 1,900 people in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa who are highly educated, live in urban, middle class areas and have access to social media.

As many as 90 per cent of Kenyans, 93 per cent of Nigerians and 76 per cent of South Africans believe that they are exposed to false news about politics on a fairly regular basis, the study found.

In a 2016 Pew Research Center study which sampled just over 1,000 Americans, 71 per cent of respondents said they often or sometimes saw fake political news.

Conference, Privacy, Social Media
FILE – Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to logos of social media apps Signal, Whatsapp and Telegram projected on a screen in this picture illustration. VOA

“We found that people in sub-Saharan Africa particularly distrust information on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp because that’s where they find ‘fake news’ most often,” said Dani Madrid-Morales, Assistant Professor at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

“Governments are already using this as an excuse to put restrictions on media by saying that too much freedom of speech on these American platforms poses a ‘danger’ to national security,” he added.

When it comes to sharing a political story that study participants knew at the time was made up, 29 per cent of Kenyans, 18 per cent of Nigerians and 25 per cent of South Africans answered “yes.”

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These numbers are higher than the US where 14 per cent of participants answered “yes” in the Pew study.

The researchers said that when disinformation campaigns challenge access to reliable information, citizens are left to make “uninformed choices”. (IANS)

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Fake News on Jammu and Kashmir Fanning Hatred

The hysteria unleashed on social media contributed to a shift in India’s focus from fighting cross-border terrorism to bringing the pilot back home, according to experts

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India Polls, Fake News, Millions
Reaching out to the old people, who are newly getting introduced to smartphones and social media is a challenge. Pixabay

As an information war broke out amid continued lockdown of Jammu and Kashmir following abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5, fake news originating from the rumour mills in different places around the world including Pakistan have gone into overdrive to sow seeds of discord among security forces and fuel hatred among citizens of India.

From allegations of rift between the CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir Police to falsely showing scenes of 2018 Kulgam blast video as “massacre” being carried out in the region, rumour mongers are leaving no stone unturned to build public opinion against India.

Fact-checking website Boom on Monday revealed that two graphics attributed to news channel ‘Mirror Now’ claiming the Indian government has banned animal sacrifice in Kashmir, is fake.

Mirror Now’s editor Faye D’Souza tweeted that the graphics were photoshopped.

The journalist whose photo and name can be spotted in the viral graphic is currently reporting on the floods in Kerala and not on Kashmir, Boom said.

Another fake message planted on social media alleged that a “Muslim Kashmiri policeman shot & killed five Indian CRPF personnel in a ‘blue on blue’ attack after they refused to let a pregnant woman by because she didn’t have the curfew pass. Things on edge since that attack.”

Both the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Jammu and Kashmir Police on Monday dismissed the messages of rift among security forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The malicious content of this tweet is absolutely baseless and untrue. As always, all the security forces of India are working with coordination and bonhomie. Patriotism and our tricolour lie at the core of our heart and existence, even when the color of our uniforms may differ,” the CRPF said in a tweet.

India Polls, Fake News, Millions
These news forwards, many of which contained fake news, surged during the election time as well. Pixabay

The Indian government is contemplating legal action against media outlets for reporting fabricated and baseless news relating to developments in Jammu and Kashmir.

Attributing “facts” to foreign news agencies, a few media outlets claimed that the Valley witnessed a large-scale protest and violence on Friday.

Earlier, prominent Pakistan news daily ‘Dawn’ went to the extent of claiming that over 10,000 people have gathered in Srinagar staging a protest over revocation of special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir.

Experts warn that Indian social media users need to exercise caution while sharing news as they may become victim to psychological warfare controlled by foreign powers.

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Similar information war was waged after the Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman’s plane crashed in Pakistani territory on February 27.

The hysteria unleashed on social media contributed to a shift in India’s focus from fighting cross-border terrorism to bringing the pilot back home, according to experts.

“In such a case when self-regulation becomes ineffective, it will be a good idea to come up with specific guidelines which should govern the behaviour and the acts done on social media during important moments of our national interest,” Pavan Duggal, one of the nation’s top cyber law experts, had told IANS. (IANS)