News traders, whose very mode of survival is the publication of sensational make-believe stories, often involving fake news involving the government’s functioning are in for a serious shock.
The Press Information Bureau (PIB) has reportedly set up a fact-checking unit that will verify news related to government’s ministries, departments and schemes.
Taking to Twitter, PIB stated, “Received a forward that looks too good to be true!!! or maybe came across a piece of news that you want verified !! Send it across and we will Fact Check it for you, no questions asked.”
The PIB elaborated further in another tweet, which read, “PIB brings you #PIBFactCheck, an opportunity to partner with us to fight the menace of fake news. Report any news about Central Govt/Dept/Min./Scheme you find suspicious and we will check it out for you drop an email with the news at the address below and we will do the rest.”
It must be noted that Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar has repeatedly called for combating the menace of fake news and has even said that it is even more dangerous than paid news. Even the Vice President of India, M Venkaiah Naidu had expressed concern over the menace of fake news and had urged organisations like the Press Council of India and News Broadcasters Association to formulate a mechanism to check the phenomenon.
With PIB’s move to set up a fact-checking unit, the Modi government has taken the first step towards busting fake news spread against its departments, ministries and schemes. What is even more laudable is the fact that it has been made a citizen-centric initiative and the ordinary citizens are not just going to be beneficiaries, but are also going to play an active role in bringing rumours to the notice of the relevant authorities who will take up the matter thereafter.
This move comes as a huge shock for some of the infamous portals who have been thriving on spreading sensational rumors and take news concerning government functioning. Leftist portals such as The Wire , The Quint, etc. have been time and again caught spreading fake news. But now that the government has come out with an elaborate plan to bust fake news spread against its departments or schemes, these portals are going to have a really tough time. With their massive reach, whatever they post on the internet will undergo public scrutiny and it is unlikely that they will get away with any mischief.
As of now, the government is focussed in its approach of ensuring that misinformation is checked by striking at its very root. Availability of correct and reliable information is also a constitutionally guaranteed right of every citizen, as it is only through such information that a citizen can truly exercise the right of free speech and expression. Modi government has taken the first step in the right direction and gradually this might also lead to the invocation of criminal liability for spreading fake news in order to create a strong deterrent against such malicious practices. The government, therefore, looks to have made up its mind to bring a decisive end to the malpractice of spreading fake news.