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Thursday, February 15, 2024

How fake news wreaks political havoc?

Asif Shar discusses the important role of fake news and how it is used to spread lies for political purposes. Such tactics were used against Hillary Clinton during Trump's election campaign.

Never has lie become so prevalent as is in the present age. The present era is the era of confusion, distortion, disinformation, and lies. Truth and authentic information have become a distant dream; everybody desires truth, but a few have access to it.

“The lie became the truth,” said Geroge Orwell in his writings in 1984. He observed that every fact had been impured with a counter-fact. The spread of fake news is much easier in the present times than in any period.

Read more: Why are Facebook, Twitter silent spectators as India spreads fake news?

In modern times, all counter-facts are seen as truth. Kevin Kelly, the co-founder of Weird Magazine, admitted that the major new challenge in reporting news was the new shape of truth networked and dictated by powerful peers.

Fabricated information paves the way for conspiracies, and harms societies in a number of ways. Fake news is not a new product; it has a long history. From Roman Emperor Octavian’s fake propaganda against his general Marc Antony to Trump’s slanderous election campaign, fake news has always been observed in human history.

Read more: Trump unveils ‘Fake News Awards’ after drawing rebuke from Republican senator

The American media

Undoubtedly, fake news has been the part and parcel of human history. In 1898, fake news presented the Spaniards as monsters resulting in the US-Spanish war. Similarly, US media, in 2003, created a hype that Iraq was making chemical weapons.

Owing to the fake news, most of the populace supported the US to wage a war against Iraq. However, Hans Blix, UN chief weapons inspector to Iraq, reported back to the UN Security Council that his team had not found any such weapons; but the western media showed Iraqis as ‘ barbarians’.

Read more: US will act in ‘self-defense’ if attacked in Iraq – Pompeo

Fake news is often used as a tool for fulfilling vested motives. In America, the media showed that the presence of American troops in Afghanistan was costly; therefore, a private firm could handle the worsening situation.

The Black Water, through multiple media sources -both conventional and social media, made the US government believe that privatizing the war was a better option than losing it. The US government, after paying a heavy price, agreed with Black Water to hire private personals under command of the organization.

Read more: Afghan government says “No” to Black Water

The role of fake news does not only serve personal gains but also helps in character assassinations. American media deliberately, according to BBC, demonized Hillary Clinton during her election campaign.

The popular slogan at Trump election rallies in 2016 “lock her ( Hillary) up” was wholly based on fake news about her supposedly criminal conduct. Experts are of the view that the movement based on fake news played a pivotal role in her defeat in the elections.

Read more: Trump reelection will be one of the hardest campaigns in history

Fake news creating political polarization

Fake news also plays a significant role in tarnishing a country’s image globally. India, for instance, distorts the soft image of Pakistan through fake news. Indian Chronicles published by EU Disinfolab in December 2020 exposed Indian conspiracies against Pakistan.

Alexandre Alaphilippe told BBC, “ It is the largest network we have ever exposed”. The report revealed that the network was spread over 116 countries and carried out a global disinformation campaign to aggravate the security issues of Pakistan.

Read more: Indian propaganda exposed and defeated by Pakistan’s govt

In last, the spread of fake news gives birth to political polarization. It is used to divide and misguide a society; as the Brexit Campaign was run by Dominic Cummings who was chief advisor to UK prime minister Boris Johnson.

In an interview, he was asked if he knew his slogan was not true. He replied, “I was given the task of winning the referendum. Didn’t I win?.” Therefore, no one can deny the fact that we are living in the age of fake news.

Read more: Brexit’s new chapter: the ‘impossible’ trade deal

The author can be reached at: asifshar115@gmail.com. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.