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Believable rumours

By   /  October 16, 2017  /  Comments Off on Believable rumours

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Yet another well crafted series of rumours that started to circulate in social media and other OTT messaging apps like WhatsApp turned out to be the downfall of many reputed media houses of the country. It is unfortunate that those news portals, news agencies, newspapers and even a TV channel would have been so gullible to consider as genuine a fake news circulating in social media and messaging apps. It is undoubtedly one of the cons of the of the Internet enabling mass syndicated news feeds where the verification by the editors of each and every news feed is almost impossible. As for journalists with datelines to catch in an age of news stories being uploaded within a few minutes after filing, it is a constant tussle. In a tussle between telling a story and telling the truth they sometimes fall prey to fake information, but still it is unacceptable.
As for Nagaland, this is not the first time that news agencies were victims of fake information being circulated on such platforms. It was in July during the crises in the government that a fake information purportedly from the PRO to the Governor of Nagaland was picked up by a reputed news agency. The news was about the supposed postponement of floor-test by the Governor due to an ensuing by-election in one of the constituencies under Kohima district where the sitting Chief Minister was contesting. Although the media houses based in Nagaland verified the information and discarded it the personnel of the other news agencies based outside Nagaland failed to do the same in both the cases.
Rumours especially in its new avatar of online fake news plays on the psychology of the readers thus making it quite believable and many becoming gullible. Psychologist state that fake news spreads because the contents play either with the fears and anxieties on the minds of the readers and also due to the perceived fears and anxieties of a group of people not necessarily of one’s kind. The second case, which is actually ignorance, seems to be the reason of the present case of fake news that was perceived to be true by some media houses outside Nagaland. Psychologist also state that fake news has more effect on those who have more biases in their general conduct towards the various issues especially the general trends surrounding society. It also has a better effect when there is a general uncertainty in the society. However the one important ingredient for the spread of fake news is when one believes it at least to some extent. If you believe it then you will pass it on.
In Nagaland, the recent rapid expansion of mobile telephony and the availability of affordable smartphones with various social media and messenger apps has suddenly exposed the general populace to the unfiltered contents of the internet. Along with the many benefits of the Internet there is always the darker side. Some experts claim that the internet is nearly 50% fake. Some fake email forwards created during the days of the dot-com bubble were so successful that even after 20 years it is still being forwarded in Nagaland centric social media and messenger groups. It is only with experience, knowledge and wisdom that one somehow learns to filter the contents from the Internet. The Naga populace is on that learning curve just like any other people across the world who faced the same scenario. Unfortunately, in the present case it was not expected of from reputed media houses in the country.

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