Masters of Myths

Masters of Myth

It has been quite the month, the relevance of #SocialMedia has been highlighted yet again. Be it Arnab Goswami quitting times now (the video of the farewell speech first showed up on our whatsapp before anyone reported it), to America voting for Trump as president (News Feed’s of Social Media platforms and our inability to filter fact from fiction is being discussed), to the latest panic about the 2000 rupee notes.

In 2016 we have diverse sources of Information, the easiest being whatsapp and social media platforms, as these are places where news finds us. Though this crowd sourced mechanism is very popular it does lead to fact being overlapped with fantasy. Giving any information the same packaging as serious, verified NEWS has become easy with Photoshop and some text editing.

Though this is quite evident to the natives of the digital era, it still remains a puzzle to the majority which migrated to smart phones and had actually witnessed the prepaid news times of honest journalism.  

In these fast and furious times of liking/sharing/commenting we usually forget the extremely important aspect of verifying. As on the internet each and every piece of information is equally important, be it fact or fiction. The platforms bound by the conviction of freedom of expression can’t really do much in this scenario to segregate the two.

This is very well known to #socialmedia campaign managers (being One, I can assure you, majority of the rumors are interest driven, and strategically promoted). In such a situation social media literacy is far more important than ever before. It becomes essential to train users in the art and craft of these virtual spaces. We tend to misunderstand trending topics for truth! Just because a lot of people are using a #, it does not have anything with that information being true.

In recent times we have seen topics such as #JNUShutDown, #PakistanWithKejriwal, and many others, while the # may have a certain discussion value to it, it was far far away from the truth. To understand this we need to get the basics of how social media communication works. Unlike old NEWS mediums, such as News Paper, Radio, Tv where the headlines pretty much set the tone of the details to follow( though lately they have been misleading at times) #’s just imply the topic. To understand the community’s perception of the topic one would have to spend time reading both sides of the discussion and then making up your own mind( or at least that would be the best case scenario).  

To ensure that only one side of the story is highlighted, its quite easy to motivate trolls, or now even the bot army for the job. In the recent times we have observed my political trending topics of India are actually being supported by users based in Thailand. Which in theory could very much be the case as the world is a global village, but one has to be skeptical about it.

Social media platforms do their bit to avoid this scenario, the community standards are clearly against automated messaging, but at the end of the day it is up to us, the users to ensure our online communities stand for positivity and honesty.

Reminds me of the famous quote

Rome is the mob. Conjure magic for them and they'll be distracted. Take away their freedom and still they'll roar. “

Hopefully we can change it in the coming times. 

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