Anatomy of fake news

Date Posted: June 1, 2019 Last Modified: June 1, 2019
Anatomy of fake news: On (mis)information and belief in the age of social media Photo: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

This research paper focuses on narratives of social media users from Achrol and Chandwaji villages in Jaipur, Rajasthan. It tries to understand the logic of social media engagement within the new media ecosystem of fake news and belief among the users. The paper argues that the dissemination of fake news becomes more problematic when it passes through filters of anonymity and identity confusion on social media. The narrative recording of selected participants were done through in-depth interviews and focus group interviews after the 2016 Indian banknote demonetisation. The logic of information consumption and dissemination should be studied within the changing business models of modern India. 

  • The narratives indicated a decline in trust in mainstream media after the 2016 Indian bank demonetisation program. The constant blaring of the demonetisation program on television channels made people believe it was fake news. This however indicates that the rural population is very vulnerable to fake news.
  • The demonetisation was not just a economic shift, it also brought along a cultural shift in its "digital awakening" with users beginning to use their phones for transactions and not just browsing.
  • Interestingly, many users consumed news in the form of message forwards and social media news feeds. The level of usage had also increased during this period with users using their smartphones for entertainment and commercial purposes.
  • The need for media literacy and awareness campaigns was apparent during the study with many users also falling prey to hoaxes and rumours during demonetisation. The authors suggest a socio-cultural assessment of fake news and misinformation with the the help of technology as the path for future research in the field.