Democracy is upheld on the strength of an informed decision made by the voter. That information now reaches the citizen 24×7, via various communication devices, and platform. Not all that information is factual, or authentic. Some of it is actually dangerous, yet dressed up to look like real ‘news’. Today, our democracy, is threatened with multiplicity of contradicting facts on the same issue, and the fake information is slipped in effortlessly.

Fake news, misleading social media posts, and provocative WhatsApp forwards are now used as a political tool to mislead and confuse voters. This disables voters from making an informed and considered political decision.

The power of such messages to mislead is so potent, that there is a citizen’s campaign underway to pressurize companies powering these messaging applications to install filtering technologies to check the spread of misinformation.

“The evidence is overwhelming that WhatsApp has become a weapon of mass democratic destruction. We demand that Facebook immediately install disinformation protection for all WhatsApp users and, if necessary, make encryption optional so that users can choose to assist efforts in monitoring disinformation. All fake and fraudulent accounts must be deleted and any and all fake news must be corrected in a timely manner.”: an Avaaz campaign singed by a million people across the country stated soon after it was known that the new Brazilian President who wants to raise Amazon forest and eliminate the 30,00 leftists and praise dictatorships used WhatsApp, a popular messaging service owned by Facebook, extensively to win his elections.

India tops the list of WhatsApp users with over 200 million active users, the next largest user in the world is Brazil, and if left unchecked, with similar social media platforms elections in India can be field day for vested interests preventing informed decision making.

The spread of fake news is enabled by mobile and internet technologies, aided and abetted by various social media applications, and often amplified even by the conventional media. Almost all new communication platforms are being used by various vested interests who want to achieve spread manufactured ‘news’ or spread misleading information, and propaganda.

Sharing such fake ‘information’ confuses the recipient, and prevents them from arriving at a truthful conclusion. This confusion makes a mockery of our faith in all that is just and fair, because we believe: “Satyamev Jayate” — the truth shall prevail.

As the election year dawns, fake news, going by the Brazilian experience, threatens to derail our democratic process and manipulate the electorate. Such a derailment will harm the nation, our citizens and will only serve vested interests.

The phenomenon of fake news and paid news (two sides of same coin) was used by various vested interests in 2014 elections extensively, and now phenomenon continues to grow unabated.

In the 2019 election, we at www.fakenewsbuster.in plan to create a wall, however small may be, and guard the news space, against all vested interests, which threaten India’s democratic process. We believe this is needed to safeguard democracy and ensure informed decision making by voters of India.

Fakenewsbuster.in is an effort not just catch, and analyse misleading, fake content around us, be it in mainline media, social media or any other communication platforms like WhatsApp. Our experts will put such content to the test, and present the facts to the public.

We have on our team, ethical, experienced and public service oriented technocrats, from India and abroad, legal experts, and senior journalists, dissecting and exposing fake news, as well as the truth behind its spread. We will reveal the people, groups and interests behind the spread of false information, irrespective of the political inclinations and place our findings before the public.

We know that fake news creators are aided and abetted by technology to spread their venom, and will use superior technological tools expose them.

We as a group of committed professionals have been keeping a hawk’s eye on various communication platforms, and traditional media, and would invite and encourage concerned citizens to notify us about any the suspected “news” they come across.

We understand that in a country with varying levels of literacy and education and understanding, there need to be a credible, independent platform committed to democratic values. We need to work towards enabling fellow citizens to come to a considered decision on issues around them, as voters of the world’s largest democracy.

Since much of Indian media has fallen prey to the market forces, and other vested interests, it is our duty as concerned citizens with years in experience in media and technology, to power a media revolution for the larger public good. We do not claim to be superheroes who can fight all of it, but will we try our best to help you understand the issues from a democratic view point. Together, we will stand guard and fight fake news, which has proven to be toxic.

We encourage you to share any misleading, doubtful content, from all Indian languages and regions, with us on: notify@fakenewsbuster.in

We are a sensitive to public spaces and democratic values, and will go by all conventions of public morality, legality and media ethics while handling all content.

– V. K. Cherian
vkc@fakenewsbuster.in