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The Hoax Post
Recently, WhatsApp came under serious backlash for being the medium which propelled spreading of false news. Through rapidly shared messages, reported from different parts of the country, innocent people were lynched on the suspicion of being child kidnappers. But what makes fake news, spread like wildfire?
Nov 28, 2018 at 00:00

image credit Dave Granlund

 

Technology is changing at a rate that is difficult to keep up with sometimes. With easy availability of mobile devices and dirt cheap mobile internet rates, almost anyone can interact with the world with just a click. People depend on technology for all the breaking news. But rarely does a real piece of information travel as quickly as fake news does.

We did a little bit of digging to understand this mystery.

Rumour has it: According to a recent study published in the Science Journal, anything that is negative sells more. Who doesn’t love a piece of gossip after all? Any unverified news acts as rumours that get created and passed around rapidly.

Validation: Who doesn’t love getting a confirmation of one’s beliefs about the world from people around us? According to a recent study, the more our views are accepted socially (liked, shared or forwarded), the more biased we get towards it.

Social Currency: More than ever before, our friendships and networks are more online than offline. We want to be the ones sharing breaking news so that it furthers our popularity. Spreading any news acts as a social currency now to build relations and stay relevant.

 

Breaking News: We all bear witness to shortening attention spans. As a result of this any news that feeds our emotions, that is fast and appealing spreads through the grapevine faster than substantial news which may actually be true.

It won’t be fair to just blame the medium used to spread the news. We are all carriers of it. We have to be cautious and well informed ourselves.

We all have opinions and it is good to have one. Just because we believe in something doesn't necessarily mean it’s correct. We need to be careful, and not let our strong views get overpowered and stray away from what’s fair.

Being Smart and Understanding the News

Dig a little deeper: When you come across any post or news on any social platform, use Google and other sources to check the correctness of what is reported. Browse the actual site and see what other news they have run. It's easy to like any post and share it, however with every like or share on the social media sometimes the incorrect news gains mileage and causes harm that is beyond repair.

What's in the domain name? : Most of the times information coming from sites which have rather lengthy domain names, means something is fishy. These domain names often use the reputed organizations domain names followed by words such as "it's true”, "original" or "not fake" with many backslashes. Remember if its original, it won't have to be highlighted using words such as these!

 

If it fuels, it actually fools: Any news that is being over circulated, and that echoes the way the general public feels about sensitive topics such as religion or caste, needs to be verified. Such stories that are one sided/ biased are mostly created just with the aim of spreading fear and not awareness amongst the masses.

 

How and what to do when good friends part ways.

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