To combat fake news, government planning to sensitise schoolkids

To counter the danger of fake news, the government is planning to educate schoolchildren regarding the misuse of social media besides enforcing legal provisions to fix responsibilities of popular platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

Two officials while requesting anonymity who has direct knowledge of the matter said that the government is working on the two initiatives simultaneously so that both can be launched soon.

Another initiative is that the network of Common Services Centres (CSCs) in 250,000-gram panchayats will also be used by the government to reach out to rural masses, considered relatively more susceptible to fake news, they said.

They further added that “Making citizens aware about fake news is the best way to counter it,” said an official from the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) who asked not to be named. “The idea is that children, who are tech-savvy, can play a major role in that as they have significant influence in their families.”

Enforce the law to check the propagation of false news through social media platforms and create awareness among people are among the two new initiatives by MeitY.

On July 3, 2018, MeitY issued a notice to WhatsApp following which it took several steps to address the issue of fake news propagation through the platform. The government issued another notice on July 19, 2018, to the company asking it for “more effective solutions” that can bring in “accountability and facilitate enforcement” of law, the official said.

The official added that MeitY already has a programme, Information Security Education & Awareness (ISEA), dedicated to general awareness against propagating rumours and fake news, which can also be used in this effort.