India First Foundation organizes seminar ‘Misinformation a Menace’ in Jammu University

In contemporary times when social media has become a boon and a bane for the society it becomes pertinent to initiate think tank activity to channelize the resources of social media in right direction. In light of this understanding a J&K based think tank India First foundation (IFF) is taking the lead.

IFF started by promising youth of J&K  Ali Jaffery, Rahul Pandita, Khushboo Matoo and Umar Malik organized a seminar ‘Misinformation a Menace’ in Jammu university to highlight detrimental effect of misinformation campaign prevalent in social media and steps which can aid in reducing the negative impact.

Speaking on the occasion Sr Journalist Ashwani Kumar said, “Last 30 years the misinformation campaign has been rampant in J&K from across the border and hundreds of fake accounts have been created to lay ‘honey traps’ on assets of strategic importance and unfortunately nothing considerable was done to counter it.” He revealed that Pakistan has become a hub of this activity where number of production houses is making documentaries to disturb the communal harmony in this part of country.

He further said. “Recently Government has initiated various mechanism to counter the misinformation and disinformation campaign launched from across the border and various offshore locations.” He asserted that government should come out with a social media policy.”

Speaking on the occasion Manoj Pandita, AIG ( Communication), J&K Police said that the whole world is facing the issues of fake news through misinformation and disinformation campaigns. He further said, “The need of the hour is to check the veracity of the news before trusting and forwarding it on social media. While proposing some actions which can assist in curbing the menace of fake news through didinformation and misinformation campaigns, he said, “It is important that websites should be rated and as far as individuals are concerned mechanism like ‘blue tick’ initiated by Twitter can be considered by other social media platforms like Whatsapp and Facebook.”

Brig. Brijesh Pandey, BGS (IW), NC, Indian Army, while speaking on the occasion gave a detailed power point presentation in which he highlighted various forms of misinformation activities unleashed by vested interests. In the power point presentation he dwelt on the glaring historic forms of misinformation campaign from Mahabharata times like the incident of Ashwathama’s killing which prompted Dronacharya to shun his weapons leading to changing the course of entire Mahabharata war. He also explained how US elections, Toronto Terror attack, Trumph impeachment and the latest Conona virus threat have turned out to be the best examples of misinformation campaigns.

Brig. Pandey further said, “Hybrid warfare except convention warfare is a dirty warfare drenched in misinformation and it is not limited to social media alone but has larger contours,” adding, “It is the human biases which accentuates it to menacing proportion.” He further revealed that Facebook has incorporated means to decrease the traction of misinformation on its platform, but twitter is yet to incorporate steps to reduce the flow of fake news.

Speaking on the occasion Dr Sehrish Asgar, IAS, Dir Information, J&K elucidate through examples during her tenure as Deputy Commsioner, Budgam how mis information can create serious law and order issue and land communities on the brim of conflict. Dr Asgar while highlighting the role of social media stressed, “We are generally of the notion that social media is bad, there are actually lot of good things that can happen and that are actually happening with our lives through social media.”

She added that in this technological revolution when people are moving towards social media we have to understand its role and importance in affecting lives in positive manner.

Presenting his address Prof Manoj Dhar, VC, University of Jammu said, “Misinformation is nothing but a modern version of rumor and it is multifaceted.” He added, “To counter misinformation campaign we need to strengthen public broadcasting and public journalism through ensuring critical digital media literacy.” In a very radical but practical means Prof Dhar stressed on nurturing skepticism in going through the social media news and promote aptitude of enquiry.

Informing the gathering about the slew of measures taken by the university to curb the menace of misinformation, Prof Manoj Dhar said, “Our University has prepared social media policy and robust media policy to counter this menace and we are soon launching official Facebook and Whataspp handles.” Prof Dhar refuted the suggestion of few saying, “Blocking sites like Youtube is not possible since UGC propagates academic material and other online courses through youtube and many other sites.”

The seminar was held in Business School Auditorium of Jammu University and attended by a learned gathering of researchers, students and media fraternity who posted questions to panelist over the subject of seminar leading to a healthy exchange of ideas.

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