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AGE OF DISINFORMATION

  • Dr. Shahid Wazir Khan
  • Jan, 2018
  • 302
  • International

Social media falling in electronic media category is top of the list in spreading fake news out of all types of electronic and print media in Pakistan

The invention and use of Internet on wide scale paved the way for flood of information which has swept away the global society. The first decade of 21st century is marked with creation and spread of networks of globally linked computers in which people interact with one another, share their ideas and so on.  Unrestricted access to amass information has never been so easy. The information age has revolutionized the life and has replaced the industrial age stretching on two centuries. The information age, despite its numerous traits, has downside since it can be polluted with disinformation. In 2014 the World Economic Forum sought opinions of its 1500-member Network of Global Agenda Council to rank the world's most pressing trends. Among the top 10 was the "rapid speed of misinformation online."

Prior to information age, there were only two options in the shape of 'true and false' before a person as far as the piece of news or information is concerned. In our age, the information has flooded our life so much so that it is hard for a common man to pick a truth from different kinds of lies since one receives information through thousands of sources. Certainly it is not an easy task. According to a survey, the majority of Pakistanis consider that the fake news is a major problem in Pakistan. Fake news is the information disguised as news circulated through the use of a fake website, news media or any information office. Phony news is spreading under the garb of truth and the people share the fake news believing it was true.

The people responsible for spreading fake news use electronic and print media. The term 'electronic media' is used in contrast with print media. Electronic media being broadcast or storage media, take advantage of electronic technology. It includes television, radio, Internet, fax, CD-ROMs, DVD, and any other medium that requires electricity or digital encoding of information. On the other hand, the print media includes newspapers, community newsletters, wire services, magazines, and other publications.

Social media falling in electronic media category is top of the list in spreading fake news out of all types of electronic and print media in Pakistan. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, social media is the "Forms of electronic communication (such as Web sites) through which people create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, etc." Social Media includes Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Instagram. The news websites ( other than social media) are also used to spread word of lies.

Fake news has become a science and the cyber criminals have turned it into an industry- profitable business model. According to a report from an online security firm,  services provided by the cyber criminals aim at creating bogus media websites, fake reviews and social media "bots" or automated accounts to promote or denigrate commercial products and services. They design websites that look like those of legitimate news organizations. Their researchers uncovered some 2,800 "live spoof" sites. For this purpose, they change a single letter in a web address to create a fake "clone" of a legitimate news organization site. They also modify genuine documents and leak them as part of disinformation campaigns. In this way, they like any good news story share the content on social media where it is liked, reposted and distributed across many different platforms and channels. The profit is directly linked to its circulation on wide scale.

Based on social psychological research, a number of techniques are used to generate fake news. Logical fallacy is a technique to further an agenda.  A fallacy is the use of invalid or otherwise faulty reasoning, in the construction of an argument.  A fallacious argument is deceptive by appearing to be better than it really is. Mostly fallacies are committed intentionally to manipulate or persuade by deception, while others are committed unintentionally due to lack of knowledge.

All the major political parties use social media for their campaign during election days. Their websites and personal emails are attacked and hacked. After hacking, false messages are spread. Fake accounts of celebrities are made and maintained until challenged by the celebrities. However, infamy has been attributed to them till that time. On social media, cyber criminal under ulterior motives claims to be member of 'A' political party and misbehaves with 'B' and thus brings a shame for the 'A'. There are a large number of tactics which are fabricated, developed and used time and again by the ...

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