Politics of Disinformation Report

The Politics of Disinformation report has been released by the Future of India Foundation, a non-profit organization that is based in Delhi. This report states that in this age where user engagement is being boosted, social media companies across the globe cannot and must not use ‘freedom of expression’ as an excuse for letting false information spread and leading to an increase in propaganda.

What does the report say?

According to the report, the huge amount of disinformation floating around on the social media platforms is harming the youths in India. The companies are also not putting serious efforts to combat this menace of disinformation.

How has the report understood social media habits?

Discussions were held with the youths from 8 states with the aim of understanding their social media habits and the impact misinformation and harmful content have on them. In India, 70 percent of internet users are below 35 years of age.

What does the report say about disinformation?

Disinformation, which means using misinformation deliberately, is a political problem. The solution to this cannot be found only in the laws that have been enacted by the government and their execution. The report has stated that social media platforms play a huge role in the spread of disinformation. The report also stated that amplification is being driven by engagement and not by the content’s quality or trustworthiness of the sources. This is causing the spread of disinformation and the platforms are not doing enough to curb it.

What is the major source of information?

For smartphone users, the dominant sources of information are the social media platforms while TV news that is broadcasted in regional languages is the only other source that is more dominant than the social media platforms.

What does the report say about the consumers?

Most of social media users are passive consumers. However, the active users have demonstrated passive information consumption through their platform feed. The report states that most of the users do not and cannot differentiate between personal posts and news as the country has low digital literacy and the media also has low credibility. The report states that the content sources are significant drivers of the way information is received. The report has also observed that most misinformation can be linked to narratives that have been propagated by business and political entities.

What does this report urge from the social media platforms?

This report has urged accountability from the social media platforms. The platforms must also stop the amplification of misinformation, return back to chronological feeds, or must take ownership regarding the choice of distributions of unfiltered content. Another method is to amplify only those specific content providers that undergo a screening process so as to ensure that the content that is being spread has passed through some methods of quality and integrity irrespective of its affiliation. The social media platforms must increase their fact-checking mechanism to curb the spread of disinformation. This is very necessary for the present scenario as the youth in the country must be protected from the spread of disinformation as it is slowly becoming difficult to differentiate between truth and lie.

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