Rumors through social media: Reality & responsibility

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Kbd M Alamgir Hossain:

A wise person has said: “Rumors are carried by haters, spread by fools, and accepted by idiots”. But sometimes a reasonable man falls prey especially in this era of social media and becomes a rumor monger who is sensible of spreading fake n fabricated news. Many of us have been left stunned after witnessing a series of mob attacks on people being accused of kidnapping and murdering children.

Few years ago. social media Show some youths kicking, Striking and trampling the 40years old woman named Renu (so called child kidnapper) amid a gathering of several hundred people. Most of the people seen in the video played in the part of silent spectators when the mob descended upon Renu. It was nothing but rumor. The rumor spread quickly through social media and mob attacks on the suspected kidnappers have become rampant.

During the quota reform movement, a rumor was spread that a student was killed during the protest and it went viral on the social media. It was aware of a rumor being spread about human sacrifices needed for the construction of Padma bridge, which may have led to the attacks.

There is an established notion that rumors originate when information is suppressed and also spread when flow of information is blocked

Let’s analyze what the Quran says in Chapter 49 Ayat 6 “O you who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest you harm people unwittingly, and afterward become full of repentance for what you have done”. As per a Hadees; The Messenger of Allah Prophet Mohammad (SAW) said: “It is enough lying for a man to speak of everything that he hears” (Muslim). So, The Quran and Last Messenger of Allah have already guided us to ascertain the information before spreading it. Meanwhile despite knowing the fact that spreading unauthenticated information which has no sources is prohibited and is against the law of the country, but yet we have rumour mongers in this society. Many are unable to identify authentic news and those with vested interests are exploiting the situation. The creation and spread of fake news and hoaxes on the internet are money oriented, politically oriented or linked to other hidden agendas.

Sometimes, Fanned by emotional posting, rumours turned into a racial conflict.

Two satisfied women whispering while sitting together in boardroom. Colleague on background. Photo: Courtesy

According to the sociologists rumours can be downright painful and almost impossible to ignore – especially if social media is being used to spread it.

Consequently, kids who are being gossiped about are negatively impacted. For instance, gossip and rumors can destroy a person’s self-confidence and affect their self-esteem. It also can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, anxiety and a host of other issues. What’s more gossip and rumors can alienate friends, ruin reputations and even lead to ostracizing behavior and other forms of relational aggression

Lynching on suspicion is a criminal offence. Spreading rumors that destabilize the environment is an anti-state act.’ These expressions seem threatening to the society and public peace,the state has to take measures to control them.

AMJ Shafiul Alam Bhuiya who is a professor of film and TV media of DU states three lines of actions are in his noted writeup and may be carried out.one is curative while others are preventive in nature. The law enforces agencies try to cure the damage caused by rumors and fake news by arresting the people who posted these on Facebook. The preventive actions are the law enforcement agencies shall monitor and filter social media contents. these preventive measures are in operation in countries like China, Cuba and Iran.

the best defense against the rumor mill is caution. The netizens must remain extremely cautious before sharing any unverified information, images or videos. All information must be crosschecked from multiple sources. A person must verify any information from multiple sources before sharing it on social media.

If any verified information is crucial enough that it must be shared, a person must wait. A person must also pay heed to trusted news portals, online media and television channels. Any person can seek support from the Fact Watch (made by ULAB) team for verifying any information free of cost.

The govt should create a cell to monitor this kind of anti govt and anti-social posts. The govt can set up filtering system on the total gateway of our country called ‘lawfully interception cell’ which is a vital element to obstruct any anti- govt element.

As a social conscious person, firstly must take assistance dialing 999.

Concerned authorities of the govt should strengthen vigilance and patrol at educational institutions alongside holding meetings with school teachers, governing body and guardians. Education authority should give parents identiy cards. Educational authorities may install CCTV cameras on their compounds n nearby areas. Police authorities should intensify surveillance particularly in urban slums and take steps to arrange special lecture sessions by Imams at every mosque of the country aiming to prevent rumors.

Fake news or rumors on social media is a complex phenomenon and probably has to be addressed from various angles. There’s no denying the role that social media companies have in controlling the spread of fake news on their platforms. But we, social media users, also have a role to play. For example, by learning to verify information that we read on social media platforms. Personal responsibility can be the first step to protecting the fabric of our societies. Let us bring energy n enthusiasm to enlightened society.

The writer Kbd M Alamgir Hossain is the District Election Officer, Moulvivazar.