There has been an active debate over the Rs. 3600-crore Chhatrapati Shivaji statue set to be built in Mumbai. Some argue that it is a colossal waste of funds in a State which suffers from farmer suicides, droughts, unplanned urbanisation, and poverty. Others claim that it will serve as a source of pride, revenue, and employment. This is a public debate and a relevant one to have.
What you may not have known about the statue is that it will generate electricity for Mumbai and prevent another 26/11 from happening in the city. This is the culmination of 2.5 years of research, and it is a master stroke.
Don’t take our word for it – take the word of many WhatsApp forwards and Facebook comments which have been bragging about the supernatural qualities of the statue and using these points as an argument for the construction of the monument. And it’s working. People are buying & forwarding this story just like other fake news stories. Because that is how fake news stories are built – they are meant to misinform and mislead, they are meant to be viral, and they have penetrated/distorted all our debates.
The story about the excellent qualities of the Chhatrapati Shivaji statue is only the latest in the fake news pieces doing rounds on the internet. We have all come across WhatsApp forwards and tweets talking about how UNESCO has declared our national anthem to be “the best in the world”, or how UNESCO has chosen Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be “the best PM in the world”. There was also the widely shared news about the new Rs 2000 notes having ‘nanochips’ and ‘GPS trackers’ to track black money.
This news was spread by a group of people on social site Reddit who planted it with the intention of gauging the reactions to the story and as a social experiment to see whether or not the readers will take the time to check the authenticity of the claims made in the message. Obviously, this did not happen and the story reached far and wide in a matter of hours. It also made it to the comment section of one of The Logical Indian‘s videos. The creators of this fake story knew what they were sharing was a lie to the point of comedy, but the same lies are now being shared on social media platforms as real news.
Effect of Fake News
Making up news stories to fool or entertain the public is not a new trend. There are hundreds of fake news websites out there, many of which deliberately imitate credible newspapers in format and design, and trend misinformation. The hoax published by such websites gets social media attention and is then picked up by other sites. A chain reaction takes place and hoax are published and proliferated everywhere. This ultimately leads to the inability to verify the authenticity of the published reports. The potential to cause damage becomes more powerful over time. It reinforces people’s beliefs and falsely confirms their prejudices.
The Logical Indian Take
Fake news is everywhere: created by propagandists and shared by susceptible people. It has diluted our national conversation. In the digital age, every piece of information we read/watch needs to be cross-checked.
Fake news can be either satirical or manipulative in nature. There are many outlets that write satirical news pieces with the sole purpose to entertain readers. Then, there are those whose sole purpose is to manipulate the readers.
Let us aim to end the propagation of misleading information.
We request to community members if they come across Fake News on social media/WhatsApp, please email us at [email protected] with the screenshot of such messages/posts.