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West Bengal recorded the highest number of registered cases against fake news on social media in 2021, accounting for about one-fourth of the total number of such cases across the country, according to NCRB data.
West Bengal has reported 43 cases of fake news on social media, with Kolkata alone recording 28 of these cases, according to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
Bengal witnessed a high-decibel electoral battle in 2021 between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition BJP, with both parties leaving no stone unturned to reach out to the people.
Social media was heavily used by all political parties, including the TMC and the BJP, to push their narratives as they fought elections on the ground and online.
“This is a worrying thing but not surprising because political campaigns in the post-truth era are using unethical means to reach people. This is becoming more and more prevalent,” said Professor Chattopadhyay, head of journalism and mass communication at Jadavpur University. .
“More than a legal issue, it is an ethical issue. We need to strengthen the ethical framework to deal with this menace. There are some efforts to make people aware, but we need more coordinated efforts so that people can report fake news whenever they see it.” one,” he added.
West Bengal was followed by Telangana with 34 cases and Uttar Pradesh with 24. In total, India reported 179 such cases and West Bengal accounted for 24% of them.
The 28 cases in Kolkata account for nearly 60% of all such crimes reported in the country’s 19 metro cities. Kolkata was followed by Mumbai and Hyderabad where eight cases were reported.
The Trinamool Congress and the BJP have blamed each other for the rise in fake news cases in West Bengal.
TMC spokesperson Debangshu Bhattacharya claimed that fake news in West Bengal has increased with the rise of the BJP in the state, claiming that social media platforms are also to blame.
“Fake news culture existed in other parts of the country too, but West Bengal was an exception. However, after the rise of the BJP in the state, fake news has increased in West Bengal,” he told PTI.
“After the BJP came to power at the Centre, it tried to buy social media platforms. In our experience, we have seen that if we report fake news posted by some other entities, those posts are immediately removed, but this is not the case.” a case with fake news published by propaganda and shadow pages of the BJP despite repeatedly reporting them,” said mR. Bhattacharya who created TMC’s ‘Khela Hobey’ anthem.
West Bengal BJP social media in-charge Ujjwal Pareek said his party ran a positive campaign on social media during last year’s assembly elections and accused the TMC of high number of fake news cases.
“We have been very responsible in using social media and campaigned positively, highlighting people’s issues. It is quite evident that TMC and its ecosystem have been using fake news,” he told PTI.
The CPI(M) blamed both the TMC and the BJP for the threat, claiming that both parties know their strengths and weaknesses and how to use them.
“No one can complain against us in this matter because we maintain certain ethics which the leadership wants. This is not the case with the TMC or the BJP,” CPI(M) central committee member Sujan Chakraborty said.
Snehashish Sur, president of the Kolkata Press Club, said journalists should double-check their information before publishing an article.
“Many new technologies are available nowadays, such as reverse image search, and journalists must use them. Also, a journalist should never ignore a hunch about anything when reporting. He should check and double-check whenever there is doubt, ” said Sur.
“We are holding a series of workshops to help journalists, especially seniors, learn how to use these technologies and tools,” he said.