Q. In India, what are the measures to counter fake news or misinformation menace?
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Replied by Anurag Sharma, Research Associate, VIF

The outreach of social media platforms and other mobile-based communication applications has enabled the misinformation aka fake news to travel faster in compared to decade earlier. Social media in cyber milieu has emerged a powerful tool to “make or break” the peaceful environment. According to the Director at Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism—Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, “the problems of disinformation in a society like India might be more sophisticated and more challenging that they are in the West”.
To counter the spread of fake news menace, the Government of India (GoI) initiated several measures, including conducting a general awareness classes on fake news in government schools in Kannur, Kerala.

There are provisions in Indian laws which can serve as legal tool to counter misinformation, including Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The misinformation content can be blocked under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, and various other sections.In November 2019, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MI&B) announced the set up of “FACT Check” module, working on four principles of Find, Access, Create, and Target (FACT)—which involves 24x7 monitoring of online news sources and publicly available social media posts.

References/further reading

- Upmanyu, Kabir. “India’s disinformation war more complex than in West: Oxford Prof”, The Quint, 06 October 2018, Available from: https://www.thequint.com/news/india/media-coverage-disinformation-in-india-interview-rasmus-nielsen
- Biswas, Soutik. “On the frontline of India’s WhatsApp fake news war”, BBC, 20 August 2018, Available from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-45140158
- Mathur, Swati. “I&B team to counter fake news”, The Times of India, 16 November 2019, Available from: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ib-team-to-counter-fake-news/articleshow/72079340.cms?from=mdr
- Grover, Gurshabad, Elonnai Hickok, ArindrajitBasu, et al. “Response to the Draft of the Information Technology [Intermediary Guidelines (Amendment) Rules] 2018”, The Centre for Internet & Society, 31 January 2019, Available from: https://cis-india.org/internet-governance/resources/Intermediary%20Liability%20Rules%202018.pdf

Date : 25/05/2021
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