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The fake news menace

India may still have a long way to go in achieving complete literacy; however, the number of graduates from WhatsApp University has registered a steady upsurge in recent times. The credentials of admission are rather simple: a fully functioning mobile phone with an Internet connection and no restriction on age. From politics to science and philosophy, everything under the sun is the prerogative of the denizens of this popular university.

It’s hard to find any other university where sending flowery good morning quotes flooding positivity and dreamy goodnight messages to fellow students is the established routine. They project themselves as founts of exotic knowledge and possess impeccable audacity to comment on anything happening in the world and beyond. I presume that it all started with the craving to attain, and moreover flaunt, immense knowledge without having to spend hours with musty books in a library or engage in the tiresome task of reading a newspaper.

For all these years while I considered the practitioners of this art to be an insignificant few, it was a couple of months ago that this misconception was permanently broken. This happened when a teacher of mine forwarded the names and pictures of what was supposed to be the list of women Ministers of Finland. A fellow student, however, came up with the revelation that it was fake news; they were apparently Tik-Tok stars! When confronted with the same, the teacher did nothing but beat around the bush.

With a plethora of information available online, it is certainly difficult to confirm what is fake and what not. Nevertheless, it is not impossible for one to refrain from the propagation of fake news. But what I consider more important is the apparent importance and appreciation showered upon people who come up with instant reasons and solutions for any given problem without any prior information about its various aspects and dimensions. Therefore, I consider this fast-growing institution as nothing but a debilitating industry in terms of its massive social cost.

sreelakshmi.chimi@gmail.com

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 11:30:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-fake-news-menace/article33480549.ece

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