Election 2024: What is the Indian Government Doing to Combat the Spread of ‘Fake News’?


Election 2024 Indian Government Combat Fake News

During the ongoing general elections in India, which began on April 19, there have been reports of 36 cases of spreading fake information on social media in the southern state of Karnataka alone. According to British news agency Reuters, an official dealing with online misinformation in India, Surya Sen, stated that “social media is the central means of spreading false information.”

He explained, “Suspicious posts are brought to the notice of electoral officials. Instructions are given to remove posts from Facebook or other platforms, or legal action is taken against the posters. As of now, 36 cases have been registered in Karnataka.” While Surya Sen usually oversees administrative matters at the city’s bird sanctuary, he has been tasked with curbing online misinformation during the major general elections.

Nearly One Billion Voters are Participating in the Six-Week Phased Election

According to Reuters, approximately one billion voters are participating in the phased elections starting April 19. Officials like Surya Sen are combating online misinformation spreading through election sales.

Election 2024 Indian Government Combat Fake News
Nearly One Billion Voters are Participating in the Six-Week Phased Election ( Photo: AFP )

His team monitors television and social media from an office in Bangalore. They collaborate with an external agency where 30 individuals use software to track keywords, enabling them to gather relevant information and monitor high-profile influencers 24/7.

Surya Sen’s team also scrutinizes online posts by political parties to identify hate speech and fake news, ensuring every aspect from inflammatory rhetoric to false news is addressed. The Election Commission stated that its representatives across India have received instructions to “remain active in stopping fake news on social media.”

Surya Sen showed Reuters his messaging app WhatsApp, displaying material identified by an external agency as potentially inflammatory or violative of public peace or electoral laws.

He did not disclose the identity of the external agency, which also tracks posts by social media influencers with large followings. These influencers play a significant role in shaping public opinion in India.

Surya Sen commented, “We couldn’t do this work ourselves; we had to outsource it because we lacked the expertise and resources. It’s a very challenging task.” Recently, fake videos of Bollywood superstars went viral, exacerbating the risk of ‘deep fakes’ in the election. In these videos, individuals criticize Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging people to vote for the opposition party Congress. The first phase of elections in India started on April 19, followed by the second on April 26, the third on May 7, the fourth on May 13, the fifth on May 20, the sixth on May 25, and the seventh on June 1.

Source: Urdu News