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Faking it in the post truth era

Fake news seems the flavor of the season. And it is actually getting reaction. Recently in response to a fake news report that the Israelis may use nukes against Pakistan if ground troops are sent to Syria, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Pakistan s Defence Minister warned Israel with a retaliatory nuclear attack. After demonetization, a fake story doing rounds in India was that the new Rs.2,000 note is embedded with a GPS tracking chips. It seems these days anyone with social media presence and Internet connection can become a content generator. The negative side is that fake news which is intentional creation of factually incorrect content not only misleads people for some pre-meditated gain but also leads to inadvertent serious reactions which may be fatal. Fake news is increasingly becoming a serious problem.

With advent of Internet era and pervading technology, mobile platforms, and all-encompassing social media, everyone is hooked to instant web access and real-time news. With platforms such as Facebook, allowing instant sharing in “clicks” and hundreds of millions of users access the news, fake or otherwise, that spreads rapidly. The news may be fake but its impact is real and far-reaching. It creates a lot of confusion as Americans say happened during the U.S. presidential elections. This has also raised fears as several countries in Europe are about to go to the polls.

It is time that news organizations and social media regulate themselves. There is also a need to define the broad contours of fake news. The standards on fake news and penalties and imposition of fines needs to be formulated.

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