Fake news and social media in India

As we had often come back to discussing economic benefits/impact of sports I thought it was about time for an economic discussion forum.
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Fake news and social media in India

Post by jayakris » Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:25 am

This discussion started in response to a post in the junior football thread about the Fan Garage podcast that should be more known in India, and a comment that they needed to create some whatsapp hooplah, like with all the fake news that Indians eat up these days, to which prasen responded...
prasen9 wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:41 am
lol :-) [it's actually sad]
Absolutely. It's distressing. Sometimes I feel that Indians are the most gullible people out there right now in the world. This includes many of the Indian friends I have in the US, based on all the whatsapp groups I am on. More than 90% of them believe all the fake news that comes from India on whatsapp. I have a simple rule that if the whatsapp message says, "pass it on to others" that it is fake with more than a 95% probability, as we can see from a simple google search - which I often do and nis never done by any of my friends. But I routinely get at least 10 to 15 of those fake whatsapp "tell everybody" messages a day with some Indian context or other. When I see that the gullibility is just the same with my Indian friends and family both in India and in the US (most of them well-educated engineers, doctors, academicians, businessmen etc), I get very alarmed. With whatsapp having such influence on Indians, I see a serious problem developing.

If we feel that what happened with the US elections and media manipulations is causing hell right now, let us wait till we see something happening in the Indian context. I don't know if there is an FBI-type organization that is actually monitoring any seriously-orchestrated campaign (like the US FBI did since 2015, though they and the men at the top didn't realize the repercussions and were late and messy/wrong in their actions about it). There is probably some deliberately fake (though actually mostly exaggerated) news campaigns from the Hindutva side right now, but they don't appear to be well-orchestrated to me, and they have been doing it for a couple of decades anyway. I have personally noticed nothing else that seems to have any deep plans behind it. But is it all just isolated mischief-makers?.... What if a serious dark-web is actually developing? If some China or Pakistan or somebody really starts a Russian-style long-range plan with whatsapp, we are in for some serious trouble. I hardly see much recognition of the gravity of this problem in India, though. I have recently been in India multiple times and the fake-news-driven whatsapp world-view is firmly in place among Indians right now on almost everything - mostly unimportant things, but some potentially important things too, with twisted facts and stories on medical matters, politics, entertainment, sports, economy, history... I am not seeing patterns myself, but I am deeply alarmed at the potential for some deep-enough nefarious plans that could seriously affect the nation in some ways that we are not foreseeing.

The effect of whatsapp in the national reaction to Sunil Chhetri within a mere 2 days during a football tournament shocked me a few weeks ago. That was a positive thing, and there was really no fake news involved, but what if the nation reacts like that on something very very negative and fake later?

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Re: Indian Junior football

Post by kujo » Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:59 am

Your paranoia is absolutely warranted Jayakris. If you look at Goa and the influx of Russians there - mostly Russian mafia you can say, election meddling in India using fake news is a piece of cake.... Of course Russia doesn't need to do that, since India has a soft spot for them anyways.

But when it comes to Chinese and Pak meddling in Indian elections, there is a good chance that it has already happened few times....

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Re: Indian Junior football

Post by rajitghosh » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:32 am

Unless FB or WhatsApp start collecting caste data it would be difficult for them to manipulate Indian elections. US elections are not fought on the basis of caste equations.

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Re: Indian Junior football

Post by Prashant » Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:48 pm

I quit using Whatsapp. Found the culture toxic for the same reasons.

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Re: Indian Junior football

Post by kujo » Wed Jul 18, 2018 11:10 pm

and then this...

Viral WhatsApp Messages Are Triggering Mob Killings In India
https://www.npr.org/2018/07/18/62973169 ... y-in-india

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Re: Fake news and social media in India

Post by Sin Hombre » Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:36 am

No one invites me to any of these whatsapp groups :cry:

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Re: Fake news and social media in India

Post by prasen9 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:48 am

Sin Hombre wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:36 am
No one invites me to any of these whatsapp groups :cry:
Have you decided whom to kill?

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Re: Fake news and social media in India

Post by RohitG » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:02 am

Fake news is one thing and choosing to believe it is another. A lot of us have confirmation bias. Whichever ideology people believe in, they want to hear positive things about it and only negative things about the opposite. So they are not gonna cross verify if someone's message/media file is edited or re-packaged and forwarded to them. For eg. last week there was a vid make rounds on twitter about Croatian fans celebrating in the states, later on users found out that it was some other festival in USA and that crowd had nothing to do with football. By then, millions had retweeted, shared that video and tagging Croatia in it. Now of course this had no negativity around it, but as Jay points out, if millions can influence or be influenced positively, can the same happen for negative propaganda? It's already happening out here. I guess one way to combat this is, start training the people (by raising awareness), especially the kids (parents can have a chat) and say it's okay to be skeptical once in a while, never take statements on face value, especially when it comes to information- ask for the source and validity or do a fact-check yourself.

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Re: Fake news and social media in India

Post by VReddy » Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:13 pm

I agree with RohitG. WhatsApp for me is like a basic necessity. I wouldn't quit SMS because I get spam / offensive texts. I wouldn't quit Gmail or Email because some bot picked up email list and started spamming me with fake news/offensive material. When I was growing, there were lot of contra arguements to not use Internet as you get polluted with the porn and related stuff - its upto the individual what one makes of it.

If we have our mind set on something, every fake news that suits us, we will propagate it. Religion / caste / region are the top drawers here. You try how much ever fake news you want, contra to the above, significantly lower probability of going viral.

Coming to the original topic of low subscriber base, I think it is a reflection of the popularity of the sport. Look at Yuki / Ankita - best players from India, they have hardly 3-5k followers. Even our forum - which is a goldmine - has lifetime members of ~1700 which is a shame. I see the PodCast folks are putting in lot of hard work but not sure about smart work, or probably realized there is not much market for their work and so continuing in their current format.

Just to illustrate the point by some data:

Popular of Yuki and Sunil in Indian based on search data - https://trends.google.com/trends/explor ... %2F04ldthg

As you can see both are around the same margin. So PodCast subscriber base equal to our subscriber base is expected I feel. They may have 8-10x reach because of being available on social media, but probably needs to have a website too to tap into the search traffic and all.

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Re: Fake news and social media in India

Post by Sin Hombre » Fri Jul 20, 2018 3:36 am

prasen9 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:48 am
Sin Hombre wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:36 am
No one invites me to any of these whatsapp groups :cry:
Have you decided whom to kill?
Everyone !

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