New Delhi: Alongside the COVID-19 pandemic which broke out last year, the world has also witnessed a spike in the spread of fake news, circulated especially on social media. Senior Supreme Court Judge DY Chandrachud, on Saturday, waxed eloquent on how to combat the challenge.
Citing the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) efforts in spreading awareness against fake news, he said as quoted by NDTV, “The phenomenon of fake news is on the rise. The WHO (World Health Organisation) recognised this during the COVID pandemic… calling it ‘infodemic’. Human beings have a tendency to get attracted to sensational news… which are often based on falsehoods.”
“We live in a post-truth world. Social media platforms are responsible… but citizens are also responsible. We incline towards echo chambers and don’t like opposing beliefs… we live in a world that is increasingly divided along social, economic and religious lines,” Justice Chandrachud added during the 6th Chief Justice MC Chagla Memorial Lecture.
The WHO, in February last year had warned the global public about the increasing spread of fake news, which included, “deliberate attempts to disseminate wrong information.”
Underscoring that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter should be held responsible, Justice Chandrachud also urged people to be more vigilant and open to reading and accepting different opinions. “We live in a post-truth world. Social media platforms are responsible… but citizens are also responsible. We incline towards echo chambers and don’t like opposing beliefs… we live in a world that is increasingly divided along social, economic and religious lines.”
“We only read newspapers that align with our beliefs… we ignore books written by people who do not belong to our stream… we mute the TV when someone has a different opinion… we do not truly care about the ‘truth’ as much as we do about being ‘right’. To counter fake news we need to strengthen our public institutions. We must ensure that we have a press that is free from influence of any kind… political or economic. We need a press that will provide us information in an unbiased manner,” Justice Chandrachud added.
Furthermore, he also spoke about how public intellectuals have a responsibility of holding the state accountable and also warned against the over-dependence of people on the government for information on social, political, cultural and even medical aspects, citing the reported manipulation of data related to COVID-19 cases and deaths.
“One cannot rely only on the State for truth. Totalitarian governments are known for their constant reliance on falsehoods to consolidate power… we see there is an increasing trend among countries around the world to manipulate COVID-19 data,” he said.
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