How to recognise fake news on Internet & report it | By Muhammad Farooq

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How to recognise fake news on Internet & report it

“It is enough for a man to prove himself a liar when he goes on narrating whatever he hears” (Sahih Muslim)

FORMED of inaccurate and misleading information and published or shared in media outlets and social media, fake news can be a dangerous way of obtaining information.

This kind of news can be against a person, state institution or its employees to defame and harm their reputation, deliberately fabricated to gain more website visitors or to create a false narrative about something.

Often some people do not check the source of the material that they view online before they share it, which can lead to fake news spreading quickly or even “going viral. ”

One common example is that some people consider it their moral and religious obligation to share Islamic information related to Qur’an and Hadith without prior confirmation of its authenticity and source.

Another example was during the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic, social media users were inundated with fake news.

Articles and WhatsApp messages gave out advice on how to treat Corona and misinformation about vaccines which caused hysteria and put lives at risk.

In such cases, many people are completely unaware of the grave consequences of sharing any wrong/fabricated news, even unverified religious information.

Therefore, one needs to develop a critical mindset when coming across any communication. Approach each piece of information with a certain degree of cynicism.

Verify its authenticity through different sources. If it is a screenshot, check its formatting first. Usually such fake images have spellings and layouts mistakes.

You should also check if the image has any date on it and whether it matches with the timelines since sometimes old news images resurface and people ignore the dates.

If you know the person who shared the fake news, let them know that the information they posted is likely false.

Spreading fake/false news on internet/social media is a punishable crime under Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA 2016).

It is punishable with imprisonment of up to 3 years or up to 10 lac fine or both. Fake news can be reported by aggrieved person to PTA’s online Complaint Management System (CMS) for its removal from relevant internet/social media platform(s).

PTA takes up the matter with concerned social media platform. However, for quick disposal of such complaints, it is advised to report directly to the concerned social media platform since they all encourage direct reporting of such fake/false content on their platform for early resolution of the matter.

The social media platform might also seek further information directly from complainant (if required).

For further guidance, PTA has placed a link (https://www.pta.gov.pk/assets/media/sm_platforms_09032020.pdf) on its website which includes the complaint registering procedure for all major Social Media platforms.

Access to accurate and credible sources of news and information has never been more important.

PTA will continue to support Pakistani internet users in having a safe and responsible internet experience.

—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Islamabad.