Fake news has been around since the establishment of the printed press but it gain a different level of popularity in the age of the rise of modern systems. Manipulation of social media and search engine algorithms to reach big audiences and mislead news consumers is becoming an international trend. Fake video clips, news items with modified press identities, bots, and hired newscasters for great online status for troll purpose have all become commonplace. The danger of false news is being used by governments to suppress free speech. The rise of fake news on Whatsapp, India’s most used messaging application, has been a critical issue. Whatsapp became a “vehicle for misinformation and propaganda,” with both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the main opposition Congress Party accused of “disseminating incorrect or misleading material” ahead of the 2019 general election. “A message began circulating in WhatsApp groups across the country following a suicide attack against Indian security personnel in Kashmir in 2019. Nit only this but the spread of Covid 19 pandemic brought a lot of fake news to the public by these platforms.
Millions of fraudulent viral messages and photoshopped images on baseless ground impact crores of individuals every day on one or more issues, either promoting one party or criticizing another. It has broken the country’s social structure apart and painted a painful picture of a democratic country like India. Investigations into several incidences of mob lynching and violence against tribals, Dalits, minorities, and other marginalized groups have revealed that misleading news is propagated primarily using whatsapp groups. Many people have been attacked or harmed as a result of the hatred but it affected the most in the weaker sections of society.
In India, there is no explicit legislation dealing with false information. The right to freedom of speech and expression, guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution, is the fundamental law that encourages the free publication or broadcasting of news. However, it is important to recall that the freedom granted by Article 19(1)(a) is not absolute and is subject to reasonable limitations imposed by Article 19(2).
If we come to a conclusion, India, like Italy, should emphasize cybersecurity, internet literacy, and false news instruction across the board. Individuals should be alert and mindful enough to tell if the news is genuine or not. If a message elicits strong emotions or makes absurd statements, it should be validated before being posted on social media. Any future legislation to combat false news should consider the entire picture rather than blaming the media, as anyone can make and distribute news for personal gain in this age of new media.
These false news creates a very devastating image in society and creates hatred. There must be a proper regulation to stop this and also people reading any news must see the source of the news whether it is genuine or not.