• Law against fake news is a weapon for the government
  • Fake news has potential to create mobs and kill people, says Pratik Sinha, founder of Alt News, a fact-checking website

Hyderabad: Alt News founder, Pratik Sinha, speaking about the onslaught of information in the digital era, opines that even too much information is a kind of pollution.

“When you receive thousands of forwards on your WhatsApp, and when half of them are inauthentic, this is nothing but information pollution, because not only is it false information, it is also harmful and has the potential to destroy truth.”

Pointing out the potential of fake videos in wiping out livelihoods and even lives, Pratik Sinha went on to say, “In Bellandur, in Karnataka, houses of hundred families were razed to the ground just because of one video. Even Karachi Bakery in Hyderabad had to face a similar crisis due to fake news. And the worst part is that we have not come up with a proper solution to deal with such issues.”

Law on fake news is a two-edged sword

Why can’t we then make a law that bans or criminalises fake news, so as to curb this “information pollution”? The fact-checker replied that making a law on fake news is like a two-edged sword, because it may also give the government enough incentive to label true news as fake and initiate action against journalists and activists. “Criminalising misinformation is like standing on a slippery slope. It basically gives the government reason to go after journalists and activists to bring out the facts.”

Highlighting the dangerous trend of how random social media posts from people are picked up, selectively edited and made viral, he further added that “Propaganda does not give you a chance to make a mistake. Once you say something on social media, it is almost like the gospel truth. This is a dangerous trend.”

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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