Dear Editor,A study by the scholars of MIT had found that false news on twitter diffuse and travel faster than real news. According to study, it takes as long as six times for real news to reach 1500 people in comparison to false news. False news has a 70 percent chance of being retweeted than true stories.India is rapidly expanding its digital wings. It is estimated that the number of smart-phone users will rise to around 820 million in the next two years. And with the Government’s recent PM- WANI (Wi-Fi Access Network Interface) initiative, the digital print of India will only see a big surge.With more access, comes a greater concern to educate masses on practising proper online behaviour. People hiding behind those screens enter anything, unconditionally share information or disinformation and even indulge in trolling and unnecessary bullying.With infiltration and inundation of all kinds of content on social media, it has not only puzzled public but infuriated them as well. There are serious doubts about the authenticity of the content forwarded. Disinformation is eclipsing the real news, the truestories, genuine journalism.Social Media being such a big platform connecting people, must hold responsibility by making scenario analysis. With almost everyone with a handset in their hands, a click can change lives of people for good or for bad.How social media can be used or misused is another subject? I would share two examples where we saw lives and events changing.Baba ka DhabaA small food stall of an 80-year old man and his wife became an overnight sensation. A You Tuber made a small video of the stall and interviewed the old man when he started crying while talking about his poor financial state since lockdown. In the next few hours, people made the video viral showing sympathy for the man. The next few days saw a huge flock of customers lining up at his stall to eat. But this effect of social media was only short-lived and after a few weeks, nobody cared about him anymore. The poor man’s fame rose and fell like a fad.Protesting farmer’s imageRecent incidence of a false news was unveiled in the backdrop of the ongoing farmer protests in Delhi. In the last week of November, an image of an law enforcement officer wielding his baton to an elderly manduring the protest, went viral. The image was shared by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on twitter shaming the act, in response to which BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya shared a clipped video showing that the man was never hit.However, Twitter tagged the BJP leader’s tweet as a form of ‘manipulated media’. It was done in accordance with Twitter’s policy of managing ‘synthetic and manipulated media’, after it was verified that the video was clipped and incomplete.But is it so easy to get manipulated? So easy to polarise us? How many times have we really analyse the content and consequences before sharing it?What we choose to watch, will mark content for our social media walls, and decide ratings for the news channels as well. Thus, we must abstain from sharing disinformation or watching channels that intend to harm public interest and disseminate unrealisticparanoia.At the end of the day, they always say, viewer discretion is required. That is true indeed. It is time we should educate ourselves about the kind of content that is good or bad for our mental health and social order. We need to condone and condemn the amplified voices that purposefully spread hatred, polarise our society and fool us by believing falsehood.Tavleen Kour,Jammu.
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