Good Fake news, Bad Fake news… and “Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar”

You will never like to argue with someone who wants to win at any cost. The reason for the cautious approach is simple: Irrespective of what you will say, and irrespective of where and how the debate ends, you will lose it.

This is exactly happening these days. The party in power at center is so eager to win every argument (issue) raised by the political opponents that it finds some way to make them insignificant. The party has answer to every question.

This exact thought came to my mind while watching yesterday a BBC Hindi panel debate over Fake news.

In the dabate a panelist having undisclosed sympathies for the BJP, started differentiating between good fake news and bad fake news (on the lines of Good Gau Bhakts Bad Gau Bhakts).

To put things back in order, the anchor put a question to the panel: If the parties not in government want to inform the people about Fake news, then why don’t they do so by sharing the correct (verified) version of the information.

The very question seemed somewhat funny to me. Because it reminded me of an incident I wrote about, just after Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar’s Birthday.

Just days before Dr. Ambedkar’s Birthday (April 14), some BJP leader started a controversy by claiming that the correct name of Dr. Ambedkar was “Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar”. When political rivals, most prominently the Indian National Congress, opposed the claim; the BJP countered it by telling that he signed it that way in the Constitution of India.

Some key allies in the BJP-led NDA Government also expressed their disappointment at this name correction. But they were also silenced. But when Dr. Ambedkar’s son Mr. Prakash Ambedkar also expressed his disappointment at the sudden inclusion of ‘Ramji’ in father’s name, the BJP leaders persisted on their version of the name; and the disappointments of Dr. Ambedkar’s son got lost in the continuing chaos.

So if a son’s belief about his father’s perception about his own name are not acceptable; then will people accept the correct information by political parties which they are told not to believe in?

So irrespective of how you see it, the first responsibility of controlling fake news lies with the Government. If the Government doesn’t fulfill its responsibility, then people must, because the biggest losers in the fight against fake news are the people. As far as the beneficiaries are concerned, then just see: What kind of political content is being shared in a non-political group in your WhatsApp, Facebook timelines. Majority of such political content will be fake. Eg. of some non-political groups are professional groups (that for lawyers, doctors, teachers, IT professionals, pages meant for farmers, young people etc.). See the content being shared there and then use your simple wisdom. You will instantly know, what content is fake.

To conclude, it is not difficult to counter Fake news. The First step will be brought by aware young men and women with logical, rational sharp minds. The rule of thumb is simple: If a piece of information looks too impossible to believe, it is fake. Simply don’t share it. It will substantially decrease Fake news.