Amritsar, Nov 12 (IANS) People in Punjab are sharing fake news stories with nationalistic messages for “nation building” purposes, with consolidation of national identity taking precedence over the need to fact-check a story, new BBC research has found.
The research, done as part of the BBC (British Broadcast Corporation) ‘Beyond Fake News’ project, which is a new international anti-disinformation initiative, which was launched here on Monday, was done based on access granted to the research team by ordinary people to their mobile phones.
The search team accessed the use of social media platforms, like Twitter and others, being used by people for spreading messages, including fake news.
Speaking at a conference held here at Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Atul Sangar, Editor, BBC Punjabi, said the key findings from the report revealed that in India, including Punjab, people are reluctant to share messages which they think might incite violence, but felt duty-bound to share nationalistic messages.
“Fake news stories about India’s progress, Hindu power and revival of lost Hindu glory are being shared widely without any attempt at fact-checking. In sharing these messages, people feel like they are nation-building,” he pointed out.
“Using big data analysis of networks within Twitter, BBC has found that in India, Leftwing sources of fake news are only loosely aligned, while the rightwing sources of fake news are very closely linked together. This allows right-leaning fake news to spread more effectively than left-leaning fake news,” Sangar stated.
Recent incidents of violence and murders due to fake news were also shared through a video presentation on the occasion.
Punjab Police Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kanwar Vijay Pratap Singh said there was a need to keep a check on fake news as information shared on WhatsApp is often taken to be true, which can lead to spread of misinformation.
“At the heart of this research is the question why ordinary people are sharing fake news, even while they claim to be worried about the way fake stories spread,” said Santanu Chakrabarti, Head of Audience Research, BBC World Service, said.