Fake news


With the danger of an outbreak looming upon us, the news we share on social media becomes even more important. 

A study by Microsoft found that over 64 percent of Indians have encountered fake news online, the highest among the 22 countries surveyed. A public health crisis can shoot up the dissemination of irrelevant and fake news, which may include hoaxes to prevent or cure the virus. Famous Chinese messaging app, TikTok and WhatsApp have frequently been victims of videos and messages that claim to provide solutions to stop the virus.

The problem is not limited to facts. A large proportion of messages shared by people have little to do with verifiable facts and peddle prejudiced opinions. This includes influential people as well. Union Minister of State for Health, Ashwini Choubey, claimed that sunlight can improve immunity and kill coronavirus. There have been instances of people claiming that cow urine can cure people of the disease, which has been denied by scientists and the World Health Organisation (WHO). This vividly reflects that people choose to ignore facts owing to a repetition of certain messages within their circles.

Most of such messages reach the least informed people. They are prone to believe the things that they come across. Research published in 2018 has shown that during the Zika Virus outbreak, most popular messages contained fake headlines and content. Rumours obtained three times more shared than verified stories. Interestingly, rumours (20% of them) also portrayed Zika as a conspiracy against the public. This largely captures the behaviour of people when faced with a disease outbreak.

However, stories like these only worsen the situation. People fail to understand government policies and credible news, which do not reach people owing to an overwhelming number of irrelevant news in their inboxes. In a huge pile of messages and articles, the relevant ones are either ignored or are discredited.

By curbing down on such stories, right and requisite information can reach the people. With a dense population, India can get fatally affected by an outbreak, if it ever happens. One form of prevention lies in our hands, by selectively sharing information from verified sources. This boosts our self-interest as well

This obligates media houses as well. As the world of news has become faster due to the internet, media houses rush to get their hands on anything that can pacify their readers. They are notorious for capitalising on unverified stories using captivating headlines and vocabulary. As a need for legitimate news grows, media houses should act as India’s first line of defence to counter fake and irrelevant news.

The Press Information Bureau, along with other fact-checking organisation should work towards curbing the circulation of news and messages that claim unverified prevention measures. People should share correct preventive measures which are verified by organisations like the WHO or the Indian Council of Medical Research.

A truly reliable source of information these days is the WhatsApp contact of the WHO. It is a chat-bot that answers all queries pertaining to the novel coronavirus. Government websites are also equally effective.

The need to change our behaviour is immediate and intense.


Featured Image Credits: The Guardian


Kuber Bathla

[email protected]



The Delhi Police has registered a case against a fake video circulated to create panic amongst students in Mukherjee Nagar. 

The Delhi Police recently registered a complaint against a fake video that circulated and went viral online with hopes of creating panic amongst students in Mukherjee Nagar.

The video shows a police officer telling people to vacate Mukherjee Nagar between 24th December to 2nd January. In the video, the officer is seen warning people, saying that they have warned students, P.G. owners, local vendors, and owners of restaurants, libraries and coaching centres to “book their tickets and vacate Mukherjee Nagar from 24th December to 2nd January.” The officer warned people against gathering in the area,  because under Section 144- which prohibits a gathering of more than four people- they can be booked and detained, and that they should refrain from protesting and not “ruin their careers.”


Image Credits: Twitter

An image of the order from the SHO Mukherjee Nagar police station had also circulated amongst students. The police claimed it to be fake, and are trying to identify the origin of the video and the fake notice that was spread to create panic amongst netizens following the CAB protests and the use of police force for quelling it


Image Credits: Times of India

“We’re all already tense about the situation in Delhi. Many of our friends have already been detained for doing nothing, and with these fake videos and images circulating, news like this is really scary for us outstation students, and our parents are constantly worrying. I know many of my friends were stressed out about the video because they were not going back home for the holidays and were planning to stay in their P.Gs or flats for the winter break,” Rohin Dalal, a second-year student, told DU Beat.

Vijayanta Arya, DCP (North-West) said that no such direction has been given by the police. “Fake messages are circulating on social media on the closure of PGs/hostels in Mukherjee Nagar area. We have registered a case against these fake messages. Appeal to all citizens to not believe these rumours,” the DCP conveyed via a tweet on 25th December.

Feature Image Credits: The Hindu

Shreya Juyal

[email protected]



In today’s time when all of us literally have the world in our hands, a dangerous effect of the same chases us.

We are living in times when information is floating all around us. We are all surrounded by a plethora of data that envelops us in its grasp. With the coming of the ‘smart’ phone and development of plenty of applications, individuals often find themselves at the centre of this ever growing storm.
What is truly scary is the fact that the phrase ‘little knowledge is dangerous’ is too much in play in our present context, especially in this generation which relies heavily on phone applications for information. What we, sadly, don’t realise is that the information that we gain from the internet is not always authentic and that the applications that condense news in a few sentences can at times have harmful effects.
One of the worst effects is that our knowledge gets too limited. And with this limitation, the retention of data/information in our minds gets lower. We read less and we remember even lesser than that. It doesn’t have to be a negative thing necessarily but considering how most one of us aspire (or claim) to be ‘aware’ citizens, the phenomena definitely has the scope of pulling us down. A third-year English honours student from Daulat Ram College goes so far as to say, “I personally don’t like to go through newspapers. It takes a lot of time. So I choose which kind of news I want to see and read about it on my phone.” Fair enough. You choose what you want to see. But is that enough?
The misinformation effect, which results into an inaccurate account of a past event due to post-event memories comes into play as we swipe/scroll over the screen of our phones while reading news. Most of us prefer to filter out stuff that we want to see/read about. But this effect would make sure that our memory remembers things only haphazardly, and in pieces and bits.
To be ‘aware’ citizens, therefore, it is important to dive deep into the waters of information and news and though it might not be possible for everything we read, we might at least try to read whatever interests us in depth. Floating on the surface can lead to burning under the sunrays.

Feature Image Credits: Research Live

Akshada Shrotryia
[email protected]

In an increasingly globalised world where information is accessible at our fingertips, what role does ethical and responsible journalism play in ensuring the dissemination of facts?

The advent of fake news is one that is unfortunate yet undeniable. It has its own distinct definition, one that differs from satire and practical humour. This relatively new phenomenon can be described as the spread of deliberate misinformation with the intention of misleading consumers. The act may be driven by a desire to garner political or financial gains, or may simply be a result of government propaganda and/or censorship. A defining characteristic of fake news are sensational headlines, also known as “clickbait” headlines to garner more click-based revenue in the online world.

The concept of false reporting came into the global limelight during the 2016 presidential election held in the United States of America (USA), through Donald Trump branding everything he disagreed with as “fake news”. There were numerous instances of reputable personalities and sources quoting morphed information during the election. Closer to home, in November 2017, the University of Delhi’s Kawalpreet Kaur posed in front of the Jama Masjid with a poster, stating her stance against mob lynching. The photo went viral, but the one that the Pakistan Defence Forum chose to tweet to more than 300,000 followers was an edited version, which read that Kaur hated India because of its colonial tendencies.

The problem with fake news in the contemporary world is that its distribution is not restricted to its producers; ordinary citizens with social media accounts can just as easily contribute to the mass propagation of false information. As a Wired article titled ‘It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech’ states, “In the 21st century, the capacity to spread ideas and reach an audience is no longer limited by access to expensive, centralised broadcasting infrastructure. It’s limited instead by one’s ability to garner and distribute attention.”

In this context, it is more imperative that media houses and journalists in positions of responsibility make an active effort to recheck the veracity of their information and stay true to the ethics of reporting. 2nd April 2018 was celebrated as the second annual International Fact-Checking Day, an occasion that seems almost ridiculous on the surface, but is essential in the era of fake news.

Ordinary citizens may not always recognise the dire need for fact-checking before they indulge in sharing fake news on social media. However, this is a luxury that journalists cannot afford. Our national ruling party recently ordered that journalists would lose access to government events if they are accused of fake news. The order has since been revoked, but the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has set up a committee to provide a regulatory framework for online media in the country. Despite the government’s own agenda and threats to the media, journalists owe it to their audience to be principled. Whether it is national print newspapers or student-run campus publications, the ethics remain the same. Before succumbing to over sensationalised headlines and political bullies, we must evaluate our foremost responsibility: to deliver facts.


Vineeta Rana
[email protected]