The online battle : True vs False

There is information everywhere. We live in a world where information is at our fingertips, and all it takes is to press a few buttons on a mobile phone.

The problem in today’s world is that there is too much information everywhere. But that is not the actual problem. The real problem is identifying what is true, and what is not. At a recently held discussion on World Press Freedom Day in Jakarta, a representative of Facebook had stated that fake news were in fact financially-motivated.

The said social media while discouraging fake news on its platform has now commenced a test project on third party fact checking to detect fake news.

While social media has been a platform for many good deeds, especially during times of disasters, it has also misled people through various fabricated news and information. Even though the individuals should be blamed for sharing such uncorroborated articles, the platform receives the brunt since it is through such media the people receive the said information.

Ever since the emergence of social media, people have been exposed to content, both good and bad. The worrying factor is that there is no filtering mechanism that could identify authentic news from false information.

Last week, several individuals had shared stories pertaining to youngsters committing suicide as part of an online challenge.

Some of these incidents were alleged to have been reported in Sri Lanka. However there has been no official information about these reports yet.

There was no clear information on the authenticity of these reports, and authorities too found it difficult to zero in on the source of such reports.

While such reports may be true, there have been numerous instances where the public have been misled by uncorroborated, unverified information.

We are in a situation where it is difficult to differentiate gossip sites from news sites, and where gossips become the news simply because they get more clicks on the internet. Even though operators of the relevant social media platforms have now taken steps to address the culture of fake news, is it a tad bit too late?

On the other hand, the individuals who re-share these articles too should act with responsibility. These articles may sound sensational or sensitive, but the individual should be mindful of the consequences of sharing such information in public domain.

One does not have to be a media person or a journalist to understand the gravity of uncorroborated articles and their impact on people. Any person with a sound mind would think twice before sharing such content.

Yes, people do have the right to get information. But not all information is true, and not all stories are factual.

The issue is there is no one or no entity that could be held responsible for false news being published on public domain.

So, the next time you click on the ‘share’ button, think twice.First whether it has been corroborated, the second on the repercussions.

Published in the Nation on May 6, 2017

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