In today's society, social media has become an indispensable part of our lives;
we don't just use it to keep in touch with our friends and family; we don't just
use it to share brief glimpses of our everyday lives or to notify people of our
joys and sorrows. Businesses, news outlets, politicians, celebrities, and other
influencers now dominate the social media landscape, each attempting to reach
out to as many people as possible for their own cause.
While having everything
connected on one platform may create the impression that we are more united than
ever before, this is far from the case. People nowadays are so dependent on what
they see on social media that they don't bother to double-check what they read.
This problem is exacerbated when well-known celebrities, influencers,
politicians, and fan sites opt to publish information with millions of their
followers without first double-checking it.
The most serious problem with disseminating disinformation is that it has the
potential to change people's minds, beliefs, and even damage their lives
directly or indirectly if done consistently over time. It can be used to
manipulate people, it can be used to further a political or religious agenda, it
can be used to raise funds by lying to the public, it can be used to gain
emotional sympathy or even to antagonise someone specifically, and we have
recently seen how trolls have used it to publicly mock someone.
As a result, in
order to create a safer, more respected, and more welcoming digital environment,
the government should penalise people who purposefully propagate disinformation
by fining them heavily for each piece of false information they post publicly.
This will aid in the restoration of information's credibility in the social
media sector as a whole.
However, there are various counter-arguments to penalising misinformation,
- Article 19(1) guarantees everyone the right to free speech and
- If telling a lie in the real world isn't prohibited, why should a person
be punished for telling a lie on a virtual platform?
We all know that Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution guarantees us the
freedom to free speech and expression. This does not mean, however, that this
right is absolute; like all other fundamental rights, it is subject to
reasonable limitations. For example, no one should defame another simply because
they have the right to say whatever they want.
Similarly, Indian Penal Code
sections 292 to 294 prohibit the distribution of obscene words, photographs,
drawings, books, and other materials. Furthermore, under Article 19(1), the
State may impose restrictions on fundamental rights in the interests of "India's
sovereignty and integrity, the State's security, friendly relations with foreign
States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court,
defamation, or incitement to an offence."
As a result, our fundamental right to free speech and expression is not
absolute, and the State may impose reasonable restrictions on it from time to
time for the reasons stated above.
Because we know that misinformation can sometimes jeopardise our nation's
security or disrupt public order or morality, it makes more sense to punish the
spread of misinformation with heavy fines, so that the spread of misinformation
that threatens our country's unity and stability can be stopped at its source.
Now, let's look at the second argument: why should a falsehood that isn't
penalised in the actual world be punishable in the virtual world? The answer is
complicated, but the reason is that a single person in the digital world has far
more potential to influence and reach thousands of people through a single
sensational post. This would not be conceivable in the real world, because no
one in our actual living reality pauses to listen to a random stranger.
Even if it is uploaded by a random stranger, people on social media have a
tendency to believe what they see. Unfortunately, most individuals regard
information published through random posts on random pages to be on par with
news shared by reputable new channels; they don't try to distinguish between the
two sources because they are simply lazy and uninformed.
No one questions the
legitimacy of the post's creator, but some people take advantage of this and
create false accounts, often known as troll accounts, to deceive others in order
to spread their own political or religious propaganda, thus causing a schism
Such annoyances caused by the propagation of misinformation must not be treated
lightly, as they may constitute a long-term threat to our country's unity and
security. In recent years, we've seen how misinformation is being exploited by
some political activists to generate bias in favour of their own political or
religious agenda, and the problem has gotten so bad that followers of such
influencers have become exceedingly intolerant of those who hold opposing views.
Fights can grow so tense that even close friends turn against each other and
cease communicating, each believing that they have chosen the "right" political
or religious line.
Another sad aspect of this is that social media corporations are unconcerned
about the legitimacy of postings published by their users and reject any
responsibility for allowing misinformation to propagate through their platforms.
As a result, it is past time for the government to recognise this growing
problem and enact legislation to combat the dissemination of misinformation on
social media, as this will help to preserve our country's unity and ensure that
anyone who attempts to deceive the public is held accountable.
Information is extremely important in our lives nowadays because it allows us to
stay in touch with reality and all that is going on around us. Every new piece
of information we acquire causes us to subconsciously generate a new thought or
attitude about it.
We rarely distinguish between information shared by a popular
influencer or fan page, or even a random stranger, and information shared by
authentic news channels or news websites in today's globalised world, where we
use smartphones and computers every minute of our lives, because our minds make
us believe everything flashed in front of our screens. In recent years, we've
seen how political activists have utilized films and photographs from a previous
event to mislead people about a present event. Not everyone realises it, but
every piece of misinformation, whether it's a complete lie, a half-truth,
misleading or biased information, can have far-reaching and deadly consequences.
This is because misinformation aids in the construction of a narrative over
time; it can sometimes become so manipulative that those who believe it regard
themselves as 'good' and superior,' while labelling those who disagree as 'bad'
or 'inferior.' Such deceptive narratives create a false illusion of 'good' and
'bad,' or superior' and 'inferior,' which is nothing more than propaganda
employed by cunning political fanatics to divide and govern people.
India, which has the world's largest population of illiterate adults, accounting
for 37 percent of the global total, is more vulnerable to the dangers of
misinformation, as our country's uneducated and less tech-savvy population is
more likely to be lured into traps of false illusions and narratives created by
political enthusiasts and religious fanatics. When educated people are careless
and ignorant enough to not cross-check information available on social media
platforms with reliable news sources, it is highly unlikely that the uneducated
section of our population will do the same, especially if they are unaware of
the dangers of social media or misinformation.
As a result, I believe it is past time for the government to intervene and
educate the public about the need of solely relying on reputable news channels
and news websites for information. The government should also penalise persons
who use social media to propagate misinformation in order to serve their own
selfish political and religious goals; this can be done by imposing large fines
for each piece of misinformation published, as this will discourage further
Misinformation does not always imply a total untruth; it could be a half-truth,
skewed news, or any deceptive information intended to manipulate or instil
sensitive feelings, such as hate mongering.
People whose public posts have the potential to reach a huge number of people
and who are followed by the general public for their works, thoughts, or
Someone who posts a deliberately irritating or unpleasant remark on the internet
in order to irritate someone, attract attention, or cause trouble.
Investigation, study, instruction, intelligence, news, facts, or data provide
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