In the digital age, where copious amounts of free information is
available in public domain, the menace of misinformation, propaganda and
personal attacks is bound to exist. It is certainly not new in the world of
social media. In the last few months, however, social media has been at its
worst. At the same time, it is also struggling, taking baby steps towards
Riding on networking, information sharing and propaganda, political
parties have set up war rooms, garages and factories.
Hours and days at a stretch are being spent to manufacture
disinformation, disseminate it through public or private communication
channels, and wait for it to play up.
India has witnessed unprecedented levels of misinformation, lies, fables
and manufactured statistics being fed to people through their mobile
The systematic, organised way in which large amounts of misinformation
is reaching the masses is leaving the public confused between right and
wrong and between relevant and
Adding fuel to the raging fire is the usual public apathy towards
“fact-checking” and verifying the information they are consuming.
Mainstream media houses, with their political biases and jingoism in
prime time spotlight, have blurred the lines between fake and fact,
reporting and opinion, objective and subjective.
Gone are the days of media objectivity. And, unfortunately, the
systematic and organised voices are louder even though they may not be
Believers are following a storyline and their influencers; non-believers
are following the other narrative that feeds their ideas leaving them in an
echo chamber of toxic information.
With mainstream media channels, in many cases, becoming the mouthpieces
of political parties, believers don’t get to hear the non-believer’s
storyline with objectivity and non-believers don’t get to hear the
believer’s storyline with objectivity.
People find it easier to believe a piece of information if it aligns
with their political, religious or personal ideology or biases and
They ignore the idea that their friends, family or networks could also
be pushing misinformation, by choice or by chance.
After all, misinformation manufacturers aren’t just working out of their
head offices in the national capital, but are even operational at the
district, block and village level.
They are using the media of text messages, voice notes, photographs and
videos; and they are grabbing the attention of their audiences through
humour, sarcasm, memes and gifs.
If everything fails, they return to the usual emotional approach — a
misguided sense of religious and nationalist identities.
In a country of 900 million Indian voters, at least 200 million use
social media and instant messaging platforms on a daily basis.
Each one of them is connected to hundreds and thousands of individuals,
mostly those with a mobile phone in their hands but some also who have no
The problem, however, does not lie in the platforms, it lies with the
The masses have not been trained and equipped to produce content.
They are largely consuming content, and passing it on further for the
sheer enjoyment of sharing, without pausing and thinking about its
The scale and volume at which misinformation is being created; we may
need to develop large scale cadres of MIL experts (media information
literacy experts) at community levels to reinstall our messaging patterns.
If this isn’t done on a priority basis, our society is at a serious risk
of information toxicity.
Q.1) "This temple was built over a period of centuries. While inscriptions
suggest that the earliest shrine dated to the ninth-tenth centuries, it was
substantially enlarged with the establishment of the Vijayanagara Empire. The
hall in front of the main shrine was built by Krishnadeva Raya to mark his
accession to the throne. The marriage of the local mother goddess, Pampadevi, is
celebrated annually in this temple." Which temple is being referred to in the
paragraph given above?
Q.1) The scale and volume at which misinformation is being created; we may
need to develop large scale cadres of MIL experts at community levels to
reinstall our messaging patterns. If this isn’t done on a priority basis, our
society is at a serious risk of information toxicity. Comment.