India recorded a massive 214 percent rise in cases related to misinformation and rumours in 2020, a three-fold rise over 2019, according to the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.
A total of 1,527 incidents of fake news were reported when the coronavirus pandemic hit the country, compared to 486 cases recorded in 2019. In 2018, the number was way less, with 280 cases.
Among the states, Telangana topped the list by recording the maximum number of incidents of misinformation (273), followed by Tamil Nadu with 188 cases and 166 from Uttar Pradesh, The Indian Express reported.
Among cities, Hyderabad reported 208 cases, followed by Chennai with 42 incidents and 30 from Delhi.
The Indian Penal Code has a provision under Section 505, dealing with rumours and fake news.
According to the section, 'Whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement containing rumour or news with intent to create or promote on the grounds of religion, race, place of birth, language, caste or community, feelings of enmity, hatred, racial, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.' despite that, it hasn't borne fruitful results.
India Biggest Source Of COVID-19 Misinformation
According to a study Prevalence and Source Analysis of Covid-19 Misinformation in 138 Countries' India was the largest producer of social media misinformation on COVID-19 due to the country's higher internet penetration rate, increasing social media consumption and users' lack of internet literacy.
The study analysed 9,657 pieces from 138 countries, which 94 organisations further fact-checked. Of them, "Of all the countries, India recorded 18.07 per cent of the total social media false news.
Impact Of Fake News & Misinformation
Addressing the issue of fake news/misinformation has been a tedious task, especially at the time of the coronavirus pandemic. It is not only dangerous but can have tragic outcomes, which many have reported worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation's (WHO) report, nearly 6 000 people in the world were hospitalised last year because of coronavirus misinformation within the first three months, and 800 people lost their lives.