Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet just because there’s a picture with a quote next to it.
Most recently, a tragic event took place at Amritsar railway tracks in the festive vibes of Dussehra, an Indian festival. Around 61 people were killed over a running train while the mass was celebrating the festival of good over evil by bursting cracks and burning effigy near the railway tracks. As reported, people couldn’t hear the train honks and signal warnings over the sound of bursting crackers and didn’t have the time to clear the railway track before the arrival of the train.
After the accident, news channels and social media are constantly covering and talking about the unfortunate incident happened in Amritsar and asking for answers from authorities.
While investigations are held to find out who is responsible for the accident, there is a section of sources from where fake news is being created for chaos and disharmony in time of grievance in the society.
One such fake news is viral all over social media where the news reports that the train driver has committed suicide after getting backlash from the society and out of guilty. The news was spread all over the Internet with an attached video in which a man is hanging under a bridge and a suicide note claiming to be written by the train driver. Though the news is purely untrue and made-up story!
According to the reports, a person who is claimed to be the train driver is actually a shopkeeper named Harpal Singh, who committed suicide due to debt and depression. Arvind Kumar, the train driver is in the safe custody of Punjab railways by sources.
Even though fake news is most of the time identified and corrected, they leave a mark of damage in the society and in mind of the mass.
Due to fake news, people start believing misinformation or hoaxes which leads to wrong understanding towards a particular event, community, race, sex, religion or an individual. Power of fake news can actually create conflict and violence in society. And in the world of social media, where information is just a button or a stroll away, it is very easy for fake news to make its way to the audience.
One of the very prominent examples of fake news is from last year in another devastating accident near Elphinstone railway station over a bridge where a stampede killed at least 22 people and injured several others. A journalist, Vedika Chaubey from The Hindu had reported that while the stampede occurred a man was taking advantage of the situation and molested a woman who was trapped in the stampede. After the police investigation, there was no substantial proof found regarding these accusations and the news turned out to be fake news. Even though the news was proven wrong, it was already viral and people were already commenting and giving the statement in respect to the fake news they received at their ends.
Although Vedika Chaubey and The Hindu did apologize for failing to adhere to journalistic norms, the damaged was already done. The image of that man was trashed in front of the society, as the society already perceived him as molester because of the fake viral news. It also demeaned India and its people in front of other foreign countries and their people, who judged Indians and their acts.
The harm done by the fake news is immense and goes really deep. With every other fake news story coming up, comes a statistically declining trust and confidence in the media. And it is not necessary that fake news is made up only because of careless research for finding facts or evidence. It can also mean agenda driven stories and propaganda settings.
The only way to avoid fake news and make our society a better place and get a free and actual flow of information communication is that the mass should be responsible and alert enough to cross-check and ask the source to provide facts and figures to justify their reporting. The audience should always remember that what they see isn’t necessary to be true.
-Abhilasha D. Kumar
About the Author
Abhilasha is a student who is pursuing a masters in Journalism and Communication. She is fighting with herself to figure out between passion, aspiration, and career. She likes writing and cinematography with love for theatre.