Nationalism a Primary Reason For Fake News in India: BBC Report
Fake news spread instantaneously over WhatsApp chat groups and Facebook is causing a “firestorm” in India and resulting in the loss of lives, warns the BBC.
Fake news spread instantaneously over WhatsApp chat groups and Facebook is causing a “firestorm” in India and resulting in the loss of lives, warns the BBC.(Photo altered by The Quint)

Nationalism a Primary Reason For Fake News in India: BBC Report

An in-depth research project by the BBC has shown that nationalism is a driving force behind the fake news menace in the country. According to the report, people in India take to sharing nationalistic fake news in a bid to assert their national identity.

The BBC, which released the report as part of its ‘Beyond Fake News’ series, also found that there was an ‘overlap’ between fake news outlets and supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media.

The research was reportedly conducted through extensive access to the participants’ phones over a week-long period, and focussed primarily on India, Kenya and Nigeria.

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WHY DO PEOPLE FALL FOR FAKE NEWS?

According to the research, people in India tend to believe fake news due to growing distrust in the mainstream media. They actively spread fake news believing that they were helping spread the real story, the report said.

The findings indicate that 29.9 percent of the messages were nationalistic in nature, 22.4 percent were based on current affairs, 36.5 percent were based on scares and scams while 11.2 percent messages consisted of ‘other’ topics

(Photo: Twitter/@Trushar)

Further, an overload of digital information has added to the problem in a big way. Instead of attempting to verify the fake news before forwarding it, people were looking at alternative sources such as comments on the post etc., for the validation of information.

Interestingly, the report found that right-wing elements are more active in pushing the fake news agenda than the Left.

SITUATION IN KENYA AND NIGERIA

In Kenya and Nigeria, national identity was hardly a factor behind fake news. In Kenya, scams related to money and technology had more traction, while in Nigeria, fake news related to terrorism and the army were found to be widely shared.

Further, in both the countries, health scares also contributed predominantly to the fake news menace.

Also Read : Fighting Fake News: Facebook to Fact-Check Photos and Videos

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