India has emerged as the biggest source of COVID misinformation as per the report released by the University of Alberta(Canada).India recorded a massive 214 percent rise in cases related to misinformation and rumours in 2020, a three-fold rise over 2019, according to the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.The cases of fake news increased after the defeat of Afghan government against Taliban.
Fake news is specifically designed to plant a seed of mistrust and exacerbate the existing social and cultural dynamics by misusing political, regional and religious undercurrents.It creates the false consciousness among the masses and hence, the truth is presented and shaped as per the convenience.
It deliberately persuades consumers to accept false beliefs that are shared to forward specific agendas.It may act as a tool to disturb the harmony of the society or restrict the social change.It can be used to malign the image of a company like there was a rumour in 2016 that McDonald's uses ground worm filler in burgers but it was laterdebunked.
The fake news can be a state conditioning device to justify the discrimination and inequalities in the society and preventssocial change. So, contents and intents of every fake news must be analysed.
The sociological imagination is an intellectual tool to make sense of personal and social reality in general and in specific facets of our lives.The logic and reasons can be used to assess the authenticity and utility of fake news.According to C.W.Mills,the sociological imagination is the ability to see personal troubles as public issues and to consider the impact of broader social and historical contexts on personal situations.
The concept of post-truth can also be used to evaluate the information sources because the post-truth mentality encompasses the sentiment that all truth is relative.Fake news promotes ideologies among the masses and for this, the ideas of critical sociologists can be essential because according to them, maintainingideology is the principal obstacle to human liberation. Hence, the cultural assumptions and structural conditions present in the society to enslave the people’s minds can be countered.
The modernization theories celebrated the arrival of technology but it acted as a double- edged sword. Although, technology provided freedom to the people but at the same time, it is also affecting the social solidarity among them. To act against fake news, content creators and content consumers must be regulated and educated respectively.
There must be some form of accreditation system for content creators along with a digital literacy drive among the masses.