Over the years, fake news has become a big problem in India. As internet penetration in India has increased so has the number of WhatsApp forwards claiming to have scientific solutions to everything.
You will get everything from fake government documents to irrational scientific declarations to doctored videos on your social media channels. The situation has gotten so bad during the pandemic, that government have had to release directives asking people to stop the spread of fake news online.
Governments are also taking legal action and arresting those who’re guilty of spreading incorrect information. Not only this, but even tech companies are also recognizing the fact that the issue is getting out of hand. Recently, WhatsApp introduced a feature that limited the number of times a user could forward its frequently forwarded message to one.
While there’s very little that you can do about the generation of fake news on the internet, you could help reduce its spread. You can do this by not forwarding any message or information blindly. Also, multiple fact-checkers are available online that you could use to verify the authenticity of the information. Let’s look at how you can do that
PIB Fact Checker
If you receive a forward about a government initiative or policy that doesn’t seem authentic, the best thing is to submit it to the PIB Fact Checker for verification. The Press Information Bureau (PIB) has its own fact-checking unit to curb the spread of fake news in India. The fact-checking unit has government as well as contractual employees who constantly monitor platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to flag news that is fake.
So if you have doubts about a WhatsApp forward or tweet you could just send it across to the PIB. You could also take a snapshot of the news or copy the URL and e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org. The WhatsApp number for the fact-checking unit is +918799711259 and the official account to report any misinformation on Twitter is @PIBFactCheck.
While sending in your queries to the PIB Fact Checker, remember that it only works for fake news related to government policies and information.
Boom Live Fake News Checker
There exists all kind of fake news online, and it’s essential to verify it. So if you ever come across a non-government related piece of news that sounds shady to you (as we do daily) you could report it to the Boom Live Fact Checker and they can verify it for you. BOOM is an independent digital journalism initiative with a mission to fight misinformation and make the internet a safer place.
You simply have to send the message to one of their fact-checking handles. They also have a dedicated WhatsApp helpline where you can send in your posts & forwards to be fact-checked. You could use the following numbers to report fake news:-
Fake News Helpline: +917700906588
WhatsApp Helpline: +917700906111
India Today Fact Checker
The India Today group also has a dedicated centre for fact-checking. This can allow you to send in the information and then the news channel verifies it and posts the analysis on its Fake News page. Here’s how you can contact them:-
WhatsApp number: 73 7000 7000
Fake news is problematic for a variety of reasons. Firstly it provides incorrect information to a large group of people. Not only that, but it also creates unnecessary panic and fear amongst the general public on account of all the false news. As has been seen several times, it also possesses the risk of disturbing social and communal harmony.
Considering its evils, it becomes even more important for us to verify the source of the information before we spread it. So use the sources listed out here and help prevent the spread of fake news!