Spotting Fake News on Whatsapp

Fake-news is the enemy of the people. It spreads lies and misinformation with sophisticated doctored videos and  anti-social intent. I observe many folks falling victim to the clever make-believe of these fabricated images/videos and fake-authenticity of the content on whatsapp/facebook almost making it their go to ‘news channel’.

So what can you do to stop the flow of fake news and prevent yourself from becoming a prey to falsified news stories?

  1. Think. Yes, many times the ‘facts we never knew’ which sound startling and puzzling, forwarded to us on these platforms are not true. Credible news articles (from standardized publications – Reuters, AP and the big newspapers) are to be trusted. If you can’t identify the source, it is best to ignore. Reporting is also an option for those willing to go the extra mile.
  2. For viral videos that are disturbing or inflammatory in any sense, check out this website – Boomlive ; a team of people who are doing the painstaking job of identifying the fake news – digging up the undoctored videos and trying to diffuse tensions by showing that the video in question is actually fake. They are trying to stem the flow of harmful information and one can also forward these fake news pieces to them on their tipline. See their hotline number here.
  3. Stop mindlessly sharing video content: This one is hard to preach and is clearly a personal choice. But harmless fun videos are safe to spread but it is worth stopping for a second or two to think before sharing or forwarding a controversial, violent video to your contacts. What if your action actually caused real-life harm to those involved?
  4. If your friend/family/contact forwards you something that is fake, confront them and let them know this content is false. Just as misinformation spreads rapidly, information can also be disseminated as quickly.

Remember, not everything you see online is true. The internet has come full-cycle – from being completely untrustworthy when it debuted (full of chatrooms of fake identities and strangers) to being entrusted with all our information (social-media) to being a source of fake news and videos again. Fake videos especially of religious and caste based content are especially dangerous to fracturing the society and pitting groups of people against one another. We must stop this as much as we can.

Here is another good read from the Atlantic and about Boomlive.