The Social Media Epiphany: A Dilemma

The existence of social media and networks in our daily life has risen the level of information gathering and updates quite swiftly. More importantly, we are the ones who have developed the un-requisite habit of believing every information available online. Unlike print media, online portals have started the trend of delivering news updates in an instant. 

Well, social media and social networks are major projection platforms of news and the habit of relying upon them controls our psychology-directly or indirectly. According to a study at Harvard University, social networks can affect our decision-making ability adversely. The sound of the social media notifications, craving for extra likes, or (including but not limited to) relying on everything that connects through the internet secrets frivolous Dopamine. In short, we’re carrying a little Dopamine stimulator in our pockets which can affect our thinking. 

But the question is, does every news or information renders legitimacy till the time it reaches our brain for further processing? If you’re thinking that every news on the internet, or specifically every news on social networks, is undoubtedly unharmed and legit, then it’s a big RED FLAG for you. Social media and networks have emancipated the views of every individual to put openly, but the fact of it being a breeding ground for hoax stories cannot be neglected. Social sites like Facebook, Telegram, Instagram, and WhatsApp are the ones leading in the industry. 

Figuring out the authenticity of news or information has become imperative. We live in a world where a small piece of information can produce a catastrophic outcome. Hence, many social platforms have taken countermeasures to fight fake news keeping the credibility of the platforms intact. 

Why Fake News/Hoax Stories are created?

There might be multiple reasons to create hoax stories. It depends on the individuality of the news and how it’ll aid them to create a virtue for them. Though the apprehension behind these reasons may vary, here we can look into the prime logic why the hoax stories are immensely created and circulated over the digital media platforms.

  1. Attracting revenues by generating higher traffic from ads.

  2. Defamation of an individual, the government, or a community.

  3. Inciting people on various grounds like religious, political, or personal while playing with the emotions of them. 

  4. Diversion to a less important issue from a more significant problem.

  5. Polarizing people to follow a certain ideology and alter the mass’s viewpoint.

There can be numerous reasons behind the proliferation of fake news but the aforementioned points hold the deepest ideologies behind circulating it. 

How Often People Create Fake News/Hoax Stories?

Honestly, if you can search for the hoax stories spreading worldwide on search engines, you can find ample examples spreading no lesser than a pandemic. The internet is filled with stories that aren’t true. It’s crucial for even governing agencies to restrain further proliferation as it can deliver drastic reverberations. 

Before proceeding further, it’d better if we get accustomed to the examples of fake news:

  1. How often you come up with an INR 2000 note? We’d say quite frequently, right? Well, during demonetization, the fake news spread all over the country that stated about the NGC embedded in the note. It is said that the NGC or Nano GPS Chip extenuates the possibility of over-stacking to prevent black money. Even the mainstream media got quite accustomed to the fake fact. However, the authorities took the responsibility to articulate the aforementioned rumours by releasing the statement on the facts and features about the INR 2000 note. 

  2. In November 2019, communal riots broke out in the national capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka. The widespread news caused great losses to the lives of people and government & private properties. Upon the investigation, the Bangladesh Authorities confirmed that the riots were inspired by a derogatory Facebook post that frequently spoke ill about a particular religion. Thousands of followers gathered in Dhaka city that induced an unlikely clash between two religions causing the death of 4 protestors on the street. 

  3. 2020 wasn’t a good year for any one of us. Over 2.68 million people have died in the Covid-19 outbreak until now. No one knows when we’ll see the world the way we used to see it before the pandemic. Well, during the pandemic, the World Health Organisation experienced tons of fake news that spread all across the world. WHO later named it Infodemic. The false and misleading information about the pandemic surged that later caused hundreds of deaths. For example, the meat traders were targeted to stop selling meats as it was rumoured that eating only vegetarian food can help you get rid of Corona Virus. The misinformation contributed to the losses of approximately INR 130bn to the poultry industry. 

Hence, to subdue the misleading false information, WHO launched a platform named Infodemic. As described by the organization, Infodemic is an epidemic of misinformation about Covid-19 and its sole aim is to combat false stories that revolve around the pandemic.

  1. Fake news has killed many individuals. The false messages spread pertaining to the child kidnapping belonging to different states in India killed two dozen individuals in different incidents. It started with Karnataka and followed the trail to Manipur, West Bengal, Maharashtra, & Tripura. Driven by hoax stories, the mobs in different states allegedly assaulted and lynched people.

The presence of these kinds of news is not new to the world, but its amplitude has risen due to faster propagation speed during the course of digital media. 

Why False News Propagates at A Higher Rate?

One of the prominent logics behind the open doors of fake stories is the negligence of checking the authenticity. However, information overload has the ability to subdue the authenticity factor of any news. Information overload is a psychological phenomenon describing the inability of making decisions due to the excess of high and low-end information about the matter.

As per the various surveys conducted by distinct authorities/organizations, for hoax stories, information overloading is used by individuals to attain coveted propagation of false propaganda. The authenticity of the source plays a keen role in identifying the fake news. It is also advised to not use social media for news purposes. Besides, getting away from social media for an hour or two can also aid in reducing the psychological effects of information overload.

Less understanding of social networks and the way the internet works can also be a leading reason for the propagation. However, over time, people are getting accustomed to the facts about how the internet works but still there’s a long path that people still need to follow. 

We seldom read whole articles and later derives the theory according to our perspective. The half-information may lead to rapid proliferation that may lead to a disastrous outcome. 

Since media is considered as the link between organizations and people, sometimes, the weak journalism sets a side path for hoax stories around the corner. The subtle art of rebuilding the decision-making mechanism can be reinitiated by cross-fact checking and credibility of the source even with the mainstream media. 

The Conclusive Paraphrase

We are all connected to the internet and widely using it for distinct purposes. But we often do not filter the information we have at our fingertips. Social media and digital networks have a lot to teach that may aid in upgrading lifestyle while understanding the laws of the world.

Besides, fake information is as old as any culture. On the global platform, social networks and media have allegedly enunciated hoax stories that have fallen into the depths of the ocean over time. The ‘Always Connected to the Internet’ generation can play its high-end goals of awareness and education while building personal and professional life online but it’s imperative to ascertain that we need to decide what we have to serve our society as well as our minds. 

Keeping the blindfolded path aside, it’s time to fact-check every piece of information from the internet. The misleading and false information will arise again but despite overloading, we have to procure our mind with the necessity of double-checking information before proliferating it further. 

Also, the creators and producers of fake content/image/news are diligent enough to know that people will fall into the catchy lines and elegant images. It is our sole obligation to neglect the fake news and reporting it to the concerned authorities. The government should also need to play a major role in deciphering the situation and making laws and implement it for stopping the further proliferation of these stories. Strong policies are indeed needed to handle hoax stories that are uploaded on various digital media platforms on the daily basis. 

Technological advancement has also risen to put a red flag to the false news by developing machines that can detect fraudulent news by fact-checking by the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence. 

We can just hope that these certain measures can repel all the fake news that propagates in the world. After all, it is just the social media epiphany!

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4 thoughts on “The Social Media Epiphany: A Dilemma”

  1. That’s a very informative article, it’s really nice to see someone talking about all this, reading this is a pleasure to my eyes!

    1. Thank you so much. It really means a lot. Hope the information has served you well.

  2. Very well researched and thoroughly written. Found it quite informative, keep it up.

    1. Thank you so much Kuhu. It really means a lot. Hope the information has served you well.

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