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Dhaka Tribune

Speakers: BTRC urged to combat fake news effectively

  • Fake news evolved into political weapon
  • Threat to democracy in Bangladesh

 

Update : 28 Oct 2023, 10:03 PM

Speakers have urged the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to combat rumours and fake news more effectively, as these pose a threat to democracy in Bangladesh by undermining trust in democratic processes and institutions. 

They believe that social media activities should be included in the scope of monitoring, as fake news has evolved into a political weapon and tool.

The speakers discussed these issues during an open discussion session at an international seminar titled “Fake News Flies Faster than Pandemic: A New Challenge” held on Saturday in Dhaka.

Empowerment through Law of the Common People (ELCOP) hosted the seminar.

During the open discussion, the chief guest of the program, Attorney-General of India R Venkataramani said: “Fake news and rumours are created by exploiting the freedom of speech unfairly. In this age of technology, we need to utilize our critical thinking to raise awareness in society, thereby preventing the dissemination of rumours under the guise of freedom of speech and expression through social media.”

Indian Law Institute (ILI) Senior Prof S Sivakumar cites several reasons for the spread of fake news or rumours, one of which is yellow journalism. He emphasized that not only should laws be enacted to address fake news or rumours, but everyone should also be more aware of this issue.

Bangladesh Television Director General M Hamid said: "Rumors are not only spread through journalism; we ourselves are often the creators of rumours. We need to be aware and refrain from spreading rumours for our own benefit."

MP Aroma Dutta said: "Fake news is the main tool to destroy global peace and harmony. The young generation should be made aware of fake news or rumours through educational institutions." 

Mentioning the need for laws to curb rumours, she urged everyone to discuss the issue.

Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Court Judge Kanak Barua said BTRC should play a more effective role in curbing rumours and include monitoring the activities of social media. 

Senior Journalist Saleem Samad mentioned the incidents that happened in Bangladesh due to rumours and asked everyone to be more aware to prevent them.

Empowerment Through Law of the Common People (ELCOP) Chairman Dr Mizanur Rahman said that technology has not only brought positive development, but its negative impacts are also widespread. Those who spread rumors should be strongly protested. The truth should be spread faster than the rumors spread. Because it is the truth that shall prevail.

ELCOP Executive Director Barrister Tapas Kanti Baul with the commitment to making the country a better place for all people to live safely, irrespective of race, caste, or creed.

A PowerPoint presentation titled Fake News Flies Faster than Pandemic: A New Challenge was presented by ELCOP Research Consultant Aroup Raton Shaha.

His report identifies what fake news is and the problem with this fake news system using online media. He mentioned that fake news is reducing trust in democratic systems and institutions. He ended his report by highlighting some legal instruments and efforts of Bangladesh to combat fake news.

Former dean of Law Department of Dhaka University Dr Rahmat Ullah said that he himself is a victim of fake news for which he had to go to court to solve it. He called for the loopholes in the law to be reformed.

Bangladesh Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan Barua referred to the incidents of Babri Mosque, Shakhari Bazar and Nasimnagar and further said that even our four national leaders have not been freed from this fake news. Many kinds of rumours are spread about them.

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