'Information management during a crisis is important so that people can get actual information which will stop them from panicking'
Emphasizing the recent such outbreak on social media during the student movement for safer roads, journalists have said that only real news can put a stop to rumours and fake news from spreading and their acceptance by people.
Their concerns and thoughts came at a roundtable, titled “Rumours in Facebook and the Role of Media,” organized by Press Institute Bangladesh (PIB) and Investigative Journalism Centre Bangladesh at the PIB in Dhaka on Sunday.
The speakers shared their take on the crisis of information flow, information management, media literacy of people, and the reasons behind wide acceptance of rumours on social media over mainstream news media.
Journalist leader and Gazi TV Editor-in-chief Syed Ishtiaque Reza said: “Rumours and fake news are spreading through social media, especially Facebook which is also a source. Fake news can only be countered by real and authentic news.”
Mentioning that most people had low media literacy, Ekushey TV’s Chief Executive and journalist Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul said: “We have to continue our fight against rumours and fake news by giving valid information. Information management during a crisis is important so that people can get actual information which will stop them from panicking.”
He urged balance between flow of information and information management along with improving media literacy among people so they can easily differentiate between real and fake.
Nagorik TV Chief Reporter Shahnaz Sharmeen said: “If we were allowed to show inside the Awami League office and the restaurants, the government could have easily countered the rumours and fake news about girls being raped and boys being killed.
“These rumours made the children go against the government as well as lose their trust on the media.”
Maasranga Television Chief News Editor Rashed Ahmed said: “People believe fake news only because sometimes we cannot even give them the real ones as we are often restricted from getting them.”
PIB Director General Shah Alamgir added that news blackout cannot be a solution as it helps spreading rumours quicker.
At the roundtable, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said that rumours were being used as political weapon. “Mainstream media can crosscheck information using technology to stop fake news from spreading.”
He said he would propose to the government to run a month-long mass awareness campaign with the help of mass media about tackling rumours and fake news.