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Radical Ideas and Fake News for the Social Media Generation

Hrishit Roy from Manipal Institute of Communication Writes:In the current generation of sensationalization and social media, the quote “News spreads like wildfire” is seeing a new face.

 

Hrishit Roy from Manipal Institute of Communication Writes: In the current generation of sensationalization and social media, the quote “News spreads like wildfire” is seeing a new face. The advent of cheap smartphones coupled with cheapest data rates in the world, thanks to Jio, has fuelled the Indian youth to flock on social media on a really large scale. Even though it is in general a good thing, with advantages, as also it goes hand in hand with Digital India, but there are certain sacrilegious parameters that has been constantly flouted in the recent past.  Fake news and ideological extremism have spread on both sides of the political spectrum.

Youth in politics, have always been a fundamental step towards a lot of positive changes all over the world and continues to be so. But with the advent of social media as a propaganda tool and the attention span of the youth hitting at an all-time low, it has certainly started to pose a lot of issues. At present, most people don’t take much time to form an opinion. Thanks to the rich visual content of social media, it has become a lot easier to portray anything to be real, and in some cases, making people feel that whatever has been posted by a popular social media handle is the truth. The lack of direct fact checking tools integrated in the social media handles can be cited as one of the main reasons for the same, though that is improving now with Facebook and other social media giants putting up measures in place to counter fake news checks.

Regardless of that, a primary concern still stays, that how radicalized a content can become? Social media is fragmented into wings. As the saying goes, “Ideologies are best preached but not put in practice”, it’s not something the woke Instagram generation with very little to no on ground experience of how things actually work believe in. Yes, it’s certainly important to have political opinions because it shows you care for the future of the nation, which in turn affects all our personal lives as well. But at what cost? Should unregulated blatant government bashing with things posted on social media without reality/fact check just go on under the guise of freedom of speech? Or even taking everything the government says like a blind person? How long till these radicalised youth moves on from social media to more prominent forms of protest against things not backed by facts? How long till it becomes a national security concern, which will challenge the entirety of Article 19 of our Indian Constitution?

Social media as a platform should not be regulated in a free, democratic country, but I really do believe better measures should be put in place to make sure that nobody misuses it as a propaganda tool to implement the magic bullet theory of communication. The world needs more diplomacy and peaceful resolution to conflicts by rational people and not any more hate or irrationality fuelled by baseless arguments.

 

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