This article received second place in ‘Inklings -- the feature writing competition’, sponsored by The Citizen at Kamla Nehru College’s annual journalism fest, Journo Junction. The topic for the competition was: ‘New Age Media: Diaspora of Fake News and Spreading Dissent.’ The writer, Nakshatra Shah from Kamla Nehru College, won second place for this essay. The winners were chosen by the students organising the fest.

Living in the times of technology, when we have a lot of technological know-how, prior to one’s birth (so as to say), has been a boon, and not to neglect- a bane as per certain standards. The New Age Media has brought news to our “breakfast tables”, as compared to the conventional media which delivered information at our doorstep, and the emerging culture of ‘Fake News’, can certainly not be neglected.

The other day Amitabh Bachchan was flashing somewhere in the list of the people with illegally accumulated wealth, in the ‘Panama Papers’, and who knows whether this account of Mr. Bachchan’s activities, is really even an issue of contention. A few days later discovered as a fake piece of news, this could have formed false opinions and led to misleading judgments.

Another issue which has already earned much public attention is of the “Padmavati Row”. Fake news of illicit and compromising scenes between Dipika playing ‘Queen Padmavati’ and Ranveer cast as ‘Khilji’, lead to an entire emancipated, emotionally provocative, and religiously touchy-Karni Sena, to gain ground and call for some action. Destroying the very evidence that ‘Rani Padmavati’, ever existed, indeed the destruction of the “Chamber of Mirrors” (referred to in the story as “Ayna Mahal”), in anger was a futile act.

And this Fake News is not just restricted to such issues which focus on Religion, Scandal, politics- but also is popularized in hooking up celebrities with better-halves they aren’t even aware of. Last week Niall Horan and Hailee Steinfield were announced to be dating and engaged, which is indeed “Too Much To Ask”, from the “Too Much To Ask” singer Niall, since Hailee and Niall are simply friends.

The diaspora and the reach of fake news is widespread, since the new age media allowed to share information just at a single click, in less than a nanosecond. And equally diverse and vast is its spread and dissent. A legitimate article on an informative issue would take hours or maybe days to propagate, but a scandalous and sensational one, needs a few seconds.

True to the human nature- that the most searched news in Monday’s feed last week, was Sri Devi’s fight(much to say- war of words), with daughter Jahnvi, during an event. Forwarding such accounts is as easy as blinking an eye but who bothers to verify and crosscheck the source.

And not to mention or name-call, some legitimate and honorable sources have side lined the ethics as well. The New Age Media is indeed a fertile ground for fake accounts of news or news pieces which might not be true, to flourish. And fake news thrives on the very fact that the human mind easily gets attracted to and is “all-ears” for controversies. And the creators of such news ‘Eat, Rave & Repeat’ on this idea.

So the next time there’s a discussion on a controversial issue attached to religion, or there’s a news account on somebody popular regarding relationship contentions, or for that matter any news that you are going to send to others or forward- Pause! Halt Back! Try and find out how legitimate the source is? and at least play your part of the responsibility.

Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp etc.
Multifarious platforms to spread fake news and distort the view.
Not to forget that ‘The New Age Media’ has vested responsibility in the hands of people like ‘me’ and ‘you’.

(Nakshatra Shah, is pursuing B.A.(Hons)Journalism at Kamala Nehru College, Delhi University)