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

The Pakistani Twitter community had a field day mocking and ridiculing Indian media after it was discovered that even established media outlets across the border had been peddling fake news about an imaginary civil war in Karachi.

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Unlimited freedom of speech often means that social media platforms are susceptible to misuse, misinformation, and hence, fake news. In the last few years, social media has turned out to be a massive player in shaping public discourse in a democratic space. Though there have been pressures from policymakers on service/platform providers, nothing concrete has built up towards accountability of the user or platform proprietors.

In India, there has been a consistent increase of social media users and instances of the misuse of this medium. India’s manufacturing of the Karachi civil war is only further evidence of this.

Indian media fabricates news of civil war in Karachi 

The Pakistani Twitter community had a field day mocking and ridiculing Indian media after it was discovered that even established media outlets across the border had been peddling fake news about an imaginary civil war in Karachi.

It is unclear why India is so quick to resort to reporting false news about its neighbor. Jumping to conclusions does not work well in the field of journalism and media.

Perhaps getting a little carried away by the happenings in Pakistan’s biggest port city, Indian media manufactured an entire civil war complete with pitched gun battles between rival forces, bombings and an imaginary area in Karachi called, quite ridiculously, ‘Gulshan-e-Bagh’.

Established Indian news channel CNN News 18 claimed that the army had taken over all police stations in Karachi.

OpIndia claimed Pakistan was in “civil war mode”.

One former Indian major and a member of India’s ruling party claimed that “10 civilians were killed”.

Times Now claimed protests were held as well.

An advocate of the Indian Supreme Court said that an army-police clash had broken out, adding that that many officers had died.

This Indian user also created a new locality in Karachi just to spread the fake news.

As Pakistanis got over the initial surprise of apparently being in the middle of a civil war they knew nothing about, many slammed Indian Twitter users and media for spreading fake news and attempting to create divisions.

Pakistani social media responds to the false claims

Lawyer and activist Reema Omer called out Times Now for passing off “sensationalist fiction” as news.

 

Bina Shah, a writer and New York Times columnist, commented that she had just returned from doing her groceries and “couldn’t find” the civil war.

International social media users respond to India’s claims

Even non-Pakistanis couldn’t help but call out the Indian media for spreading lies.

Journalist Shaheen Sehbai simply claimed that Indian TV has gone “berserk”.

One user took the Indian media’s fantasies a bit further, saying “Captain America” had also been seen fighting on the streets of Karachi.

 

Perhaps attempting to further confuse the Indians, journalist Mubashir Zaidi suggested that the situation was “very serious” at Bombay Bakery (which is famous for its cakes) and Delhi Sweet House (famous for sweetmeats).

https://twitter.com/Xadeejournalist/status/1318867377233199105?s=20

Finally, journalist and TV host Zarrar Khuhro saw the silver lining amid all that has happened in the past couple of days.

https://twitter.com/ZarrarKhuhro/status/1318889152704892928?s=20

What roles can Facebook and Twitter play?

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter provide the public with a lot of information, but it is getting harder and harder to tell what is real and what is not. It would have been fairly simple for both social media websites to not only verify, but subsequently delete the news, all the while holding the Indian social media users responsible for misleading the national and international public.

Read More: How Indian media is exploiting Pakistan’s internal political turmoil

As social media giants, both these companies must take up the initiative to filter out whatever is posted on their respective platforms, for not only does fake news against a country harm the sentiments of its people, but also portrays a false and rather degrading image internationally.

 


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