Fake News and Social Media: Indian Perspective

© Media Watch 10 (3) 737-750, 2019
ISSN 0976-0911 E-ISSN 2249-8818
DOI: 10.15655/mw/2019/v10i3/49687

Fake News and Social Media: Indian Perspective
Aasita Bali & Prathik Desai
Christ University, India


The unlimited freedom made social media platforms are susceptible to misuse, misinformation, and thus, fake news. In the last few years, social media has turned out to be a massive player in shaping public discourse in a democratic space (Marda & Milan, 2018). Though there have been pressures from policymakers on service/platform providers, nothing concrete has built up towards accountability of the user or platform proprietors. In India, there has been a consistent increase of social media users and instances of the misuse of this medium. This paper seeks to examine how the propagation of fake news has disrupted the public sphere and possible policies that can be implemented to curb the plague of fake news. The relationship between various events of violence reported in India media and the role of fake news in instigating chaos are discussed in this paper. It also tries to review policies initiatives taken by various countries, especially in Europe and possible measures which India could take to restrict the flow of fake news.

Keywords: Facebook, fake news, India, media law, policy, social media, WhatsApp


Agarwal, S. (2018, July 21). WhatsApp to limit message forwarding to five chats in India. Retrieved December 09, 2018, from The Economic Times: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/internet/whatsapp-to-limit-message-forwarding-to-five-chats-in-india/articleshow/65063188.cms
Agence France-Presse [AFP]. (2018, July 14). Death by ‘fake news’: social media-fuelled lynchings shock India – The Siasat Daily English. Retrieved December 5, 2018, from Dailyhunt:
Alexander, S. (2018, July 14). Can WhatsApp Admins be Jailed For Fake & Hate Messages? A Fact File | | BOOM. Retrieved February 10, 2019, from Boom Live: https://www.boomlive.in/can-whatsapp-admins-be-jailed-for-fake-hate-messages-a-factfile/
Allcott, H., & Gentzkow, M. (2017, February). Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 211–236. Retrieved December 01, 2018
Al-Rawi, A. (2019). Viral News on Social Media. Digital Journalism, 63-79.
Anupam, S. (2018, September 26). Leading Media Companies Form DNPA To Curb Fake News, But Digital-Only Media Stays Away From It. Retrieved from Inc42 Media: https://inc42.com/buzz/leading-media-companies-form-dnpa-to-curb-fake-news-but-digital-only-media-stays-away-from-it/
Apa, E.., & Bassini, M. (2017, February 07). Italy – Legislative proposal on fake news. Retrieved from IRIS Merlin: https://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2017/5/article27.en.html
Ashish Bhalla vs. Suresh Chaudhary and Others (Delhi High Court November 29, 2016).
Atreya, S. (2018, September 25). Social Media and Fake News. (P. Desai, Interviewer)
Bassi, S., & Sengupta, J. (2018, July 08). Lynchings sparked by WhatsApp child-kidnap rumours sweep across India. Retrieved December 05, 2018, from CBCnews: https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/india-child-kidnap-abduction-video-rumours-killings-1.4737041
Berduygina, O. N., Vladimirova, T. N., & Chernyaeva, E. V. (2019). Trends in the Spread of Fake News in Mass Media. Media Watch, 122-132.
Bharali, B., & Goswami, A. L. (2018). Fake News: Credibility, Cultivation Syndrome, and New Age Media. Media Watch, 118-130.
Broxton, T., Interian, Y., Vaver, J., &Wattenhofer, M. (2013, April). Catching a viral video. Journal of Intelligent Information Systems, 241-259.
Chang, A. (2018, May 2). The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal explained with a simple diagram. Retrieved December 01, 2018, from Vox: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/3/23/17151916/facebook-cambridge-analytica-trump-diagram
Council of Europe. (1970, September 21). European Convention on Human Rights.
Doval, P. (2018, September 01). India heads of IT giants may face criminal charges over fake news. The Times of India. Retrieved December 18, 2018
Facebook Blocks 115 Accounts Ahead of US Midterm Elections. (2018, November 06). Retrieved December 09, 2018, from Fox 40: https://fox40.com/2018/11/06/facebook-blocks-115-accounts-ahead-of-us-midterm-elections/
Facebook in the race to curb fake news. (2018, November 23). The Hindu, p. 11. Retrieved December 11, 2018
Farooq, G. (2018). Politics of Fake News: How WhatsApp Became a Potent Propaganda Tool in India. Media Watch, 106-117.
Fiorentino, M.-R. (2018, November 22). France passes controversial ‘fake news’ law. Retrieved February 02, 2019, from Euronews: https://www.euronews.com/2018/11/22/france-passes-controversial-fake-news-law
Frank, R. (2015). Caveat Lector: Fake News as Folklore. The Journal of American Folklore, 315-332.
French Gouvernement. (2018). Combating the manipulation of information.
Funke, D., (2018, July 25). Here’s what the world is doing to tackle fake news. India can learn. The Print. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from https://theprint.in/opinion/heres-what-the-world-is-doing-to-tackle-fake-news-india-can-learn/88195/
Germany: Flawed Social Media Law. (2018, February 14). Retrieved December 19, 2018, from Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/02/14/germany-flawed-social-media-law
Gleicher, N. (2018). Election Update. Facebook Newsroom.
Habermas, J., Lennox, S., & Lennox, F. (1964). The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article (1964). New German Critique, 49-55.
Indo-Asian News Service. (2018, November 12). Fake News Spreading In India Due To “Rising Tide Of Nationalism”: Report. Retrieved December 12, 2018, from NDTV: https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/beyond-fake-news-bbc-fake-news-in-india-spreading-due-to-rising-tide-of-nationalism-1946038
Lazer, D., Baum, M., Benkler, Y., Berinsky, A., Greenhill, K., Menczer, F., . . . Nyhan, B. (2018, March 09). The science of fake news. Science, pp. 1094-1096.
Lima Quintanilha, T., Torres da Silva, M., & Lapa, T. (2019). Fake news and its impact on trust in the news. Using the Portuguese case to establish lines of differentiation. Communication & Society, 17-33.
Malaysia’s anti-fake news legislation becomes law, is now enforceable. (2018, April 11). Retrieved from The Straits Times: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/malaysias-anti-fake-news-legislation-becomes-law-is-now-enforceable
Marda, V., & Milan, S. (2018). Wisdom of the Crowd: Multistakeholder Perspectives on the Fake News Debate. Internet Policy Review series, Annenberg School of Communication.
Press Trust of India [PTI]. (2018, June 15). West Bengal government plans new law to tackle fake news on social media. The Indian Express. Retrieved December 19, 2018, from The Indian Express News: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/west-bengal-plans-new-law-to-tackle-fake-news-on-social-media-5218445/
PTI. (2018, August 29). Government mulls action against India heads of social media on failure to check fake news. Retrieved January 06, 2019, from The Economic Times: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/government-mulls-action-against-india-heads-of-social-media-on-failure-to-check-fake-news/articleshow/65597519.cms
PTI. (2018, July 23). U.P. police to set up ‘Digital Armies.’ The Hindu.
PTI. (2018, December 03). WhatsApp rolls out TV campaign in India to tackle fake news. Retrieved December 19, 2018, from A Livemint News Web site: https://www.livemint.com/Companies/QU7LWGcHf0m49uiBqDRzlN/WhatsApp-rolls-out-TV-campaign-in-India-to-tackle-fake-news.html
Raj, R., & Su-Lyn, B. (2018, September 12). With historic rejection of Anti-Fake News Act repeal, Senator wants law improved | Malay Mail. Retrieved January 20, 2019, from Malaysia | Malay Mail: https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2018/09/12/with-historic-rejection-of-anti-fake-news-act-repeal-senator-wants-law-impr/1671785
Robb, M. (2017, March 07). Our New Research Shows Where Kids Get Their News and How They Feel About It. Retrieved from Common Sense Media: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/our-new-research-shows-where-kids-get-their-news-and-how-they-feel-about-it
Rushe, D. (2014, February 20). WhatsApp: Facebook acquires messaging service in $19bn deal. Retrieved from The Guardian Web site: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/19/facebook-buys-whatsapp-16bn-deal
Shafi, S., & Ravikumar, M. (2018). Dynamics of Fake News Dissemination: A Case Study in the Indian context. Media Watch, 131-140.
Singh, A. (2018). Circulating messages intended to create ill-will. (Alexander, Interviewer)
Singh, V. (2019, January 09). An ancient story-telling technique is helping cops fight fake news in India. Retrieved from Quartz India: https://qz.com/india/1518770/indian-cops-fight-whatsapp-fake-news-with-ancient-story-telling/
Stringer, K. (2018, March 12). Push for Media Literacy Takes on Urgency Amid Rising of ‘Fake News.’ Retrieved January 08, 2019, from Education Writers Association: https://www.ewa.org/blog-educated-reporter/push-media-literacy-takes-urgency-amid-rise-fake-news
Tambini, D. (2017). Fake News: Public Policy Responses. London: Media Policy Project, London School of Economics and Political Science.
Tan, J. (2018, August 17). Malaysia repeals anti-fake news bill, says ‘sufficient’ laws exist to tackle the issue. Retrieved December 19, 2018, from Marketing Interactive: https://www.marketing-interactive.com/malaysia-repeals-anti-fake-news-bill-says-sufficient-laws-exist-to-tackle-issue/
Vosoughi, S., Roy, D., & Aral, S. (2018). The spread of true and false news online. Science, 1146-1151.
What’s driving India’s fake news problem? (2018, November 12). Retrieved December 05, 2018, from The Week UK: https://www.theweek.co.uk/97720/what-s-driving-india-s-fake-news-problem

Aasita Bali (Ph.D., CHRIST, 2018) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media Studies, CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bangalore, India. Her research interests include Indian cinema, millennial studies, media theories, media psychology, advertising, and digital media.

Prathik Desai is currently pursuing his Masters in Media and Communication Studies at CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bangalore, India. His areas of research interest include social media, political communication, and ecology.