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UPSC Civils Daily Mains Question 24th June-2021

Overabundance of information in social media makes it difficult for people to identify truthful and trustworthy sources from false or misleading ones. What initiatives and measures can be taken to control false information on social media?

The term “social media” refers to internet-based applications that enable people to communicate and share resources and information. While they have enabled faster communication, there are many challenges, of which information hygiene is the most important. We live in an age of info emic, where there is a lot of data to consume; but at the same time the veracity of claims made by the information is not factually true. This leads to fake news and mass hysteria.

Initiatives and measures can be taken to control false information on social media

  • The social media conglomerate has also launched a content oversight board, which will be able to overturn decisions by the company and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on whether individual pieces of content should be allowed on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Google has launched its Google News Initiative to help journalism thrive in the digital age.
  • The world’s biggest social media companies, including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Byte Dance, are exploring an industry-wide alliance to curb fake news on their platforms in India.
  • The proposed alliance — to be named the Information Trust Alliance (ITA) — will be a grouping of digital platforms and publishers, fact checkers, civil society and academia that will aim to control the spread of harmful content, including fake news and hate speech.
  • Facebook has announced that it currently has over 500 full-time employees and at least 3,500 external contractors who focus on election work, on top of the 30,000 people across the company focused on safety and security issues.
    • Coordinated attempts to amplify and spread misleading and false information sometimes seem to emanate from major political parties and activists who support them. Election Commission of India must tie up with tech companies to identify the creator of such news.
    • Educating the end-users to be more discerning consumers of news by informing them of verification tools so that they can ascertain the accuracy of a news item before sharing it.
    • The Press Council of India, a regulatory body, can warn, admonish or censure the newspaper, the news agency, the editor or the journalist or disapprove the conduct of the editor or the journalist if it finds that a newspaper or a news agency has violated journalistic ethics.
    • A better and more effective approach to limit the influence of hoaxes on WhatsApp and other platforms is to increase media literacy.
    • The government should bring out a policy framework on the possible harm due to the internet messaging platforms to engage at a deeper level.

The Government of India could partner with local news groups to further educate citizens on how to identify real news from fake news.

 

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