Guwahati: In light of the increasing vitality of fake news and disinformation, Assam Police is going to organize a workshop titled ‘Fighting Fake News’ in partnership with a New Delhi-based non-government organisation Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), which is working towards digital enablement of grassroots community across India for the last 16 years, in collaboration with WhatsApp.
The workshop will be held on January 8, 2018, at Royal Global University in Guwahati.
It may be mentioned that the workshop will be organized by Assam Police’s SMART Social Media Cell, led by Additional Director General of Police, (IPS) Harmeet Singh, who’s the architect of Assam Police’s incredible SM campaign spreading awareness about Fake News; a first by a government administration in any state. Apart from awareness campaigns, the State Police, in the past couple of months has successfully thwarted and countered every attempt of destabilizing peace and public order in the state. This includes prompt actions taken during the aftermath of a sad incident of mob violence in Karbi Anglong, during the release of NRC, where they countered fake news and rumours in real time to ensure a peaceful NRC release or during the aftermath of tragic murders by suspected ULFA-I members in Tinsukia.
The workshop is aiming to address over 200 participants from diverse backgrounds comprised of- police, media, students, local administration, teachers etc.
It may be mentioned that the spreading of fake news on social networks, especially in times of disaster, or on matters involving national security brings unwanted effects on the lives of individuals and societies. With the availability of cheap smart phones and affordable Internet plans, WhatsApp has become the most popular social media platform in India with over 200 million monthly active users, which has also made it the most popular tool to disseminate hate speech and fake news. There have been some cases of mob attacks triggered by rumours of child-lifting on social media platforms.
While WhatsApp has already taken several technological measures to curb the problem of misinformation (such as the ‘forwarded’ tag and limit forwarding to five chats at once), it is also eager to tackle the problem socially by making communities resilient against misinformation.