Indian Government Forced to Drop Move Against Fake News
Media supporters reacted very strongly last week to an order by India's Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
The government threatened to suspend the work documents of any reporter accused of spreading, what it called, "fake news."
The new rule caused such an outcry against the government that Prime Minister Narendra Modi withdrew it in less than 24 hours.
Opponents of the order said the government was trying to control the media as the country prepares for general elections in 2019.
The government's effort to stop what it considers fake news brought attention to a growing problem in the world's largest democracy.
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry said fake news in different mediums, including newspapers and the internet, made the order necessary. The ministry said it would punish journalists accused of creating fake news by not permitting them to go to government offices or press events.
The Editors Guild of India protested the order. The trade group said it would lead to political pressure on journalists.
Media experts pointed out that the government order did not define what fake news was. It also did not target non-traditional media online that have grown in number.
Experts questioned the government's ability to solve the problem.
Jency Jacob is the managing editor for boomlive.in, a fact-checking website that seeks to disprove fake stories. Jency said political parties often create fake news, not the media. Jency added that the order was an attempt by the government to confuse people about the origins of fake news.
How fake news spreads
Many senior journalists questioned the timing of the effort to stop fake news. There will be important state elections before the general elections in 2019. And some observers say Prime Minister Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party has lost some support.
"The reversal has started. Somewhat bad press is coming up. This is overreaction to that," said N. Bhaskars Rao, head of the Center of Media Studies in New Delhi.
The BJP has ignored the criticism. The party said the order was removed quickly because Modi wanted to reinforce his belief in press freedom.
Most fake news in India spreads through the social media platform WhatsApp. Its influence has grown as the spread of mobile phones increases internet availability around the country.
A few people have started fact-checking websites to stop the spread of fake news. They say many people, especially in the countryside, do not ask where information comes from on social networks.
They have also found that untrue information includes everything from false weather reports to bad health information.
Fact checkers can't keep up
Pratik Sinha started the website Altnews. He said the number of fake stories with political messages on social media often grows at election time.
He said December elections in Modi's home state showed that both the ruling and opposition parties have used fake news as a campaign tool.
The biggest problem, Sinha said, is that fake news has the ability to increase religious tension and cause violence. His website has found fake news from many people who are ideologically active.
Last month, the editor of the website Postcard News was arrested for writing an untrue story about Muslims attacking a Jain monk, a religious worker who had been hurt in an accident. A year ago, untrue stories in a village about child kidnappers led to the death of seven people.
Mainstream media not immune
Jacob of boomlive.in said traditional media also is to blame sometimes because they do not check their facts as they hurry to release a story.
Jacob added that a lot of television stations and newspapers are using fake news and then saying ‘it is not my problem.'
However, many people agree that a government order is not the way to solve the problem.
I'm Susan Shand.
1.fake news 虚假新闻
The site teases the fake news that it will shut down at midnight.
2.traditional media 传统媒体
News media development in the new media age challenged the survival of traditional media.
3.social media 社交媒体
We have all witnessed the power of social media.
4.general elections 大选
With a peace agreement signed, general elections are expected to take place in2009.
5.The government's effort to stop what it considers fake news brought attention to a growing problem in the world's largest democracy.
brought attention to 吸引人们的注意
The incident brought attention to a real and growing threat to air safety.
The crisis brought new attention to the billion-dollar market for travel insurance.
6.Opponents of the order said the government was trying to control the media as the country prepares for general elections in 2019.
prepares for 准备...
He always prepares for tests at the last minute.
We countdown as the world prepares for the World Expo held in Shanghai, China next year.
杰西·雅各布（Jency Jacob）是印度 boomlive.in网站的总编辑，这是一家旨在反驳假新闻的核实网站。杰西表示，经常制造假新闻的是政党而非媒体 。杰西还指出，政府是想借这项命令让民众混淆假新闻的来源 。
众多资深记者对试图制止假新闻的时机提出质疑。在 2019年大选前会有一场重要的州选举 。一些观察者指出：总理莫迪所在的人民党失去了一些支持 。
“逆转已经开始，一些负面新闻呼之欲出。新德里中央媒体研究所主任N. Bhaskars Rao表示：“这是对这件事的过度反应” 。
Pratik Sinha开创了Altnews网站。他说，通常在选举期间，社交媒体上有关政治信息的假新闻会陡增 。
上个月，Postcard News网站的编辑因撰写了一篇穆斯林攻击一名耆那教和尚（一名在意外事故中受伤的宗教工作者）的不实新闻被捕。一年前，一篇关于儿童绑架犯的不实报道导致7人死亡 。