While fake news industry has existed in some form or other in the past too, the rise of BJP into power has coincided with the disproportionate growth of fake news industry. What makes it alarming is these fake news sites are closely connected to BJP IT cell. They are on a continuous run to produce fake news which is used for propaganda purposes. Some of these include opindia.com, indiaarising.com, thefrustratedindian.com, viralinindian.in, internethindu.org, insistpost.com, oneindia.com, postcard.news, thelotpot.com, swarajyamag.com, dainikbharat.org, shanknaad.net, beingindian.com, satyajivi.com, hindutva.info.

While claiming to be neutral and against paid media, these news sites come out with fake news. Social media is used to propagate the fake news produced by these sites. The purpose of these sites is multiple. Politically it aims to create an environment of hatred towards the opposition parties, leaders, organizations, human rights groups and activists, ideologies & people and a favorable environment towards Hindutva oriented people and organizations. Socially it polarizes people along communal lines. Culturally it aims to impose its version of a mainstream culture on the larger minorities. It aims to build a fear psychosis among the majority community of them being under threat by minorities within the country, neighboring countries such as Pakistan or extremist groups such as ISIS. Such propaganda only goes on to bring a social divide among the people.

The strategy of these fake news sites can be understood through the principle of 5M. Their strategy includes: a) Misinformation; b) Misinterpretation; c) Maligning; d) Manipulation; e) Modification. They misinform the facts. Facts which either do not exist or might have a different time and geographical context are manipulated to misinform the public. The misinformation is used as a basis on which further misinterpretation and maligning is undertaken. These are with the ultimate purpose of Modification of human minds to make it conducive, tolerant and acceptable of the rightwing agenda.

Some of these have been brought to light by news sites such as altnews.in which are devoted to exposing the fake news sites. It showed how fake news site hindutva.info misused Mexican stabbing video which was manipulated to misinform it as one of RSS member getting killed in Kerala. Similarly, how a Bangladeshi video was used to misinform of a Hindu being killed by Muslims in West Bengal. [1]

Similarly fake news sites such as dainikbharat.org have misused 2 year old JNU election celebration picture to show that students from JNU are celebrating Sukma attack. These are only aimed at misinforming facts, manipulating details and maligning an institution. Right wing fake news sites such as dhainikbharat and Newsloose misinformed that Ravish Kumar’s sister has been suspended due to corruption charges. Ravish Kumar is maligned by BJP and Bhakts for questioning the establishment.

There are countless stories of misinformation being produced by the fake news sites. The fake news sites on a day in and day out basis are in the process of creation of news content which only misinform, misinterpret, malign, manipulate and modify. Thus overall it aims at ‘manufacturing’ a rightwing mindset.

Mainstream media too to a different degree have adopted the strategies adopted by the fakenews sites. It is not surprising that news channels such as Times Now, Zee News, and Republic have used fake news to make the basis for its own news hour and prime time debates.

The debates have turned more rightward. The anchors have become more aggressive and proudly exhibit their rightward leanings. The alternative views are crushed and branded as that of being anti-national or supporting terrorism. The intolerance being seen outside is also clearly reflected in the newsrooms.

It is time that the dangers of fake news industry need to be exposed.

 T. Navin works with an NGO as a Researcher. He did his M.Phil from Jawaharlal Nehru University.

[1] https://www.altnews.in/whos-behind-fake-news-site-hindutva-info-secret-popularity/

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One Comment

  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    The right wing hindutva forces are using every available opportunity to spread rumours and false news. The internet has become a primary source of fake news propaganda by using Facebook, Twitter, false sites and other ways. The slander unleashed on Arundhati roy is a case in point. The statements are exceeding limits of decent debates and polite disapproval of views. They profess to be non- violent but are most violent than any extremeist