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People urged to act responsibly when using social media

  • Published at 07:36 pm November 15th, 2018
BBC seminar
Speakers at a seminar organized by the BBC World Service, at a Dhaka hotel on Thursday, November 15, 2018 Dhaka Tribune

Journalists and media organizations also requested to do proper fact-checks, investigation and re-investigation of issues that can appear as fake news

Speakers have urged every individual person to act responsibly while reacting to something on social media, to avoid fake news which can adversely affect society.

They were speaking at a seminar titled “The Challenge of Fake News in the Context of Bangladesh Elections,”organized by the BBC World Service at a Dhaka hotel on Thursday.

The speakers also requested journalists and media organizations to do proper fact-checks, investigation and re-investigation f issues that can appear as fake news. 

However, avoiding fake news with self censorship is not a solution, rather the media should fact check if any questions arise over any content, said senior media professionals at the event.

Head of Asia Region, BBC World Service, Juliana Iootty, said: “Since the national elections will be happening within two months, it becomes very important to check any news on election in the current days or on Election Day, because one fake news can create ghastly violence between political parties, police, or with people.”

She urged the media to play a sincere role in publishing news with checking the facts first.  Fake news can be used to victimize political opponents for political gain and spreading religious hatred.

The speakers pointed out that social media platforms have become the major source of fake news, as news spreads quickly on the platform, but journalists should play responsible roles in cross-checking the facts.

They said fake news in spreading in Bangladesh concerning religious groups, political activities, government and celebrities in social media, as people believe without cross-checking facts.

BBC's Dhaka Correspondent Akbar Hossain, in his keynote speech, highlighted some incidents including the Facebook live of actress Quazi Nawshaba Ahmed during the recent road safety movement and the rumours that spread about the death figures at an Islamist party’s rally in Dhaka on May 5 and 6 in 2013.

He urged journalists to use their common sense, searching online for information, finding out whether the information is dubious or not, identifying the source of picture and video, talking to persons involved in an incident, and finding information from multiple sources to make sure the news is correct.

Measures taken by media organizations to tackle fake news

Daily Star editor Mahfuz Anam said: “Print media staff get more time in checking the facts but it remains a challenge for online.”

“However our organization has standing instructions that we might be late, but no news shall be submitted until the proper information is received,” he said while describing the safeguard policy taken by his paper to combat fake news.

Around 60 public and private university students attended the seminar,  getting answers to their questions on what fake news is, how to decide what is fake or not, the role of fake news, and so on.

Nagorik TV Managing Director Rubana Huq, Dhaka University Journalism and Mass Communication Professor Geeti Ara Nasreen, Bangladesh and South Asia Regional Director of Article 19, Tahmina Rahmanand Head of NTV Online, Fakaruddin Jewel, also spoke as panelists at the program,  among others.