Over 161 million people in five states — Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram — will vote in assembly elections this month. Ahead of any election, the spread of misinformation and fake news is a challenge that needs to be tackled on priority.
Take for example a recent video of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan where he can be heard saying that people are upset with the BJP and that their party will face defeat this time.
— Bhaskar dwivedi ,भास्कर व्दिवेदी (@BhDwivedi_INC) October 23, 2023
On checking it was found that the video was edited, and is from a review meeting related to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bhopal in June. The original video has been overlaid with a fake audio.
In another social media post, Raman Singh, the former chief minister of Chhattisgarh, was seen applying tilak to a photo frame with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) logo on it. The picture was photoshopped. The real image, shared by the former CM, shows him applying tilak to a picture of God Narayan.
रावण को नारायण में मनुष्य दिखाई दे रहे थे और भ्रष्टाचारियों को नारायण में वही दिखाई दे रहा है जो उनके पतन का कारण बनने जा रहा है।
— Dr Raman Singh (@drramansingh) October 25, 2023
The above examples show how misinformation and fake news spread during the run-up to an election and how it can undermine the electoral process. A study, Industrialized disinformation 2020 global inventory of organised social media manipulation, conducted by University of Oxford in 81 countries, including India, says that 90 per cent countries have misinformation campaigns that involve pro-government and pro-party propaganda, 94 per cent of countries have misinformation campaigns that attack the opposition and mount smear campaigns, 73 per cent have misinformation campaigns that suppress participation through trolling or harassment and 49 per cent have misinformation campaigns that drive division and polarise citizens.
In 2022, social media platform X, formerly Twitter, reported that it had taken down over 11 million tweets for violating its policies on misinformation. In its 2022 Community Standards Enforcement Report, Facebook stated that it removed over 23 million pieces of content for violating its policies on misinformation.
While there are many ways to verify information, in today’s column, we will explain how the ‘Google Fact Check Explorer’ works.
Google provides a tool that allows you to search for ‘fact-check articles’ on specific topics or claims. Fact Check Explorer lets users find a fact check which has been investigated by independent organisations from around the world, in various languages on various viral social media posts.
So how does Google Fact Check Explorer work?
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Enter ‘Google Fact Check Explorer’ in the Google search or use the above link.
A dialogue box will appear:
Enter a keyword related to the social media post you want to search, you will also get a language preference when you search for the relevant term.
Through this tool, you can figure out whether the posts you have received on various social media platforms are true or not. Google will soon roll out a ‘search by image’ feature too. Always remember, if you are unsure about whether or not a piece of information is accurate, it is best to err on the side of caution and not share it or verify and then share it.