IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 8th Jan

“Opportunities don’t happen, you create them.” —Chris Grosser

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #305 :“Handling Fake News or Disinformation in 2021 | UPSC 

Handling Fake News or Disinformation in 2021 | UPSC Handling Fake News or Disinformation in 2021 | UPSC

Pratik Sinha and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen
Handling Fake News or Disinformation in 2021 | UPSC

      HEADLINES:

Do we have a grip on disinformation in 2021?

      CENTRAL THEME:

Disinformation is increasing and becoming harder to combat, but fact-checking too is evolving

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : 3 : Freedom of Speech : Communication : Information and Broadcasting

      MAINS QUESTION:

The four Ps of power, profit, profound public disagreement and platforms will continue to drive disinformation in 2021. Discuss -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

  • Why people spread fake news ?
  • Dissemination of information
  • Things are changing .
  • Way Forward

      INTRODUCTION: 

WHY PEOPLE SPREAD FAKE NEWS?

  • PROFIT : These days information without label is spread for Profit.
  • CLICKBAIT : Fake news is mostly a sort of low-grade clickbait.
  • OPINION : This is disinformation that’s driven by Profound public disagreement.
  • DIGITAL SEMILITERATE : And finally it is hard to believe that all of this is enabled by Platform companies.
  • BOTTOM-UP DISINFORMATION : Where people in good faith spread information that others think of as disinformation

EXAMPLE
We see this around vaccines, climate change, community relations in countries such as India.

Facebook and WhatsApp, Google and YouTube, Twitter, and others enable the creation and spread of this information in ways that set us apart from where we were before the advent of digital media

  • WORSENING INFODEMIC : Disinformation, or “fake news”, is a malaise that has been worsened by the infodemic of the social media age.

In the Indian context, disinformation is not evolving in quality but in quantity.

  • WEAPON OF POLARISATION : In the last few years, it has been used as an effective weapon to polarise communities and upset democratic processes.

      BODY: 

DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION

  • BASIS OF FAKE NEWS : The nature of disinformation was the same as it is today — primarily old videos and images used to represent something in the present, especially if they have an element of violence or are highly politicised.
  • DEBUGGING FAKE NEWS : In all of these issues, the kind of disinformation which was perpetrated was pretty simple, and not that difficult to debunk.
  • FALSE CLAIMS : It’s just the organised manner in which it was produced every single day — multiple false claims using photos, images and text.
  • POLITICALLY MOTIVATED : In fact, it is just going to keep increasing because political parties have found out that if you put out organised disinformation, then any political narrative can be controlled.

At the same time, even though India has a federal structure, the parties which have been targeted are not doing anything about it

  • AWARENESS AND KNOWLEDGE : Fake news are not introducing any educational reform so that people can be more aware.
  • MAJORITY FAN BASE : So, what we are going to see is just a lot more disinformation that is rudimentary, but with a lot of people consuming it day in and day out, and forming their political opinion.
  • EVOLUTION OF FAKE NEWS : While the tactics, forms, and communities involved in creating and disseminating disinformation evolve over time, by now we have a very clear sense of what the basic dynamics are.
  • FUELLING FAKE NEWS : You have disinformation that is spread and created in the pursuit of Power.

THINGS ARE CHANGING

  • HARD TO CHECK FACTS : Many disinformation actors have embraced formats that are harder to fact-check and harder to moderate, whether by humans or by automated forms.
  • RESILIENCE : We’re also seeing that platforms have been, on rare occasions, willing to go after disinformation very aggressively.
  • FACT CHECKING COMMUNITIES : The fact-checking community has evolved in really impressive and important ways over time.
  • FALSE NEWS : In India, there are two kinds of false news: the ones that come directly from politicians, and the other that is organised disinformation on social media.
  • ORGANISED DISINFORMATION : When it comes to organised disinformation on social media, again, the mainstream media in India has acknowledged the issue but not many news organisations actually do fact-checking.

The main purpose of disinformation in India is to target minorities, and there’s very little fact-checking that has been done to reduce that harm 

EXAMPLE
The state claimed that Arsenicum Album 30, a homeopathic drug, can prevent people from having COVID-19 and so, many organisations carried that claim. 

  • SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS : Platforms such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube have amplified disinformation with algorithms that prioritise engagement and revenue.

      IASbhai Windup: 

  • GOING THAT EXTRA MILE : This major vector of disinformation can be controlled if platforms are willing to go that extra mile.
  • TECHNOLOGICAL INTERVENTION : We are the people who are bridging journalism and technology and have ideas on how to deal with these issues.

Science is arguably the single most powerful way we have of arriving at the best obtainable version of the truth

  • CONSUMING FAKE NEWS : These are harmful as they can be around vaccines or public health emergencies and, for that matter, climate change.
  • WHAT POWERFUL COMPANIES CAN DO ? : Large and powerful institutions can make scientific consensus and evolve with set of new data, and different analyses sometimes overturn established findings.
  • USING ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE : There are some areas in which there is a clear scientific consensus and an established ground truth, but there are other areas in which this is less clear.
  • INDIAN JOURNALISM : In India, we are facing a much bigger problem, not just because we have what the rest of the world has, but because the journalism industry in India is not equipped to handle the science.
       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Handling Fake News or Disinformation in 2021 | UPSC

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