Lok Sabha election reach midway, social media still struggling to combat fake news  

Arunima Bajaj  Sunday 28th of April 2019 05:00 PM
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New Delhi: Social-media platforms are still scrambling to control the spread of election-related misinformation, even now that the three phases of voting are over with four phases to go and the polls have reached a midway.

Social-media “warriors” are busy propagating “reworked” and “reoriented” content related to political news, government scams, historical myths, patriotism and nationalism on Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter.

Anoop Mishra, nation’s leading social media expert, said, “Apart from the fake news and doctored contents, chatbots are sending bulk WhatsApp messages on active mobile numbers, not only on WhatsApp but on Facebook Messenger as well.”

He added, “Over 90,000 groups on WhatsApp and more than 200 fake Facebook pages and accounts are currently influencing the group members and followers with biased political content.”

Several cases involved people changing their account names later only to spread political misinformation, which is why there is no way for the social media giants to have known that sort of fake accounts earlier.

The content not just involves fake statistics of the government's policies but also news prompting regional violence, from manipulated political news, government scams, historical myths, propaganda to patriotism and Hindu nationalism.

WhatsApp launched a research project in India where over 200 million users in the country can tip off fake news, misinformation and rumours related to elections. It also commissioned a research project with a media skilling a startup PROTO to help create a database of rumours to study misinformation during elections for Checkpoint.

Mishra also said, “The social media giants began their work towards safeguarding the India elections a bit late and some of the measures were announced near to the poll dates. It is difficult to tell if these measures will bear fruits and tame the fake news factories or not.”




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