Nationalism a driving force behind fake news in India: BBC research

A research conducted by BBC has revealed that a rising tide of nationalism in India is driving ordinary citizens to spread fake news. The researchers observed that facts were less important to some than the emotional desire to bolster national identity. The report revealed that right-wing networks are much more organised than on the left, pushing nationalistic fake stories further.

Interestingly the researchers observed an overlap of fake news sources on Twitter and support networks of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

An extensive research was done by BBC World Service in India, Kenya, and Nigeria to look into the way ordinary citizens engage with and spread fake news.

The research findings show that distrust of mainstream news outlets pushed people to spread information from alternative sources, without attempting to verify it, in the belief that they were helping to spread the real story.

The report concluded that widespread sharing of false rumours on WhatsApp has led to a wave of violence in India, with people forwarding on fake messages about child abductors to friends and family out of a sense of duty to protect loved ones and communities.

According to a separate BBC analysis, at least 32 people have been killed in the past year in incidents involving rumours spread on social media or messaging apps.