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Election 2024: What is the Indian Government Doing to Stop The Spread of ‘Fake Information’?

During the recent general elections in India which started on April 19, 36 cases have been reported so far in the southern state of Karnataka against the spread of fake information on social media.

According to the British news agency Reuters, Surya Sen, an official dealing with online misinformation in India, says that “social media is the main source of disinformation.”

He said that ‘suspicious posts are brought to the notice of election officials, instructions are given to remove the post from Facebook or X or legal action is taken against the person posting. 36 such cases have been registered in Karnataka so far.

Surya Sen, an official of India’s forest department, looks after the management of the city’s zoo, but has been tasked with eradicating online misinformation during the biggest general election.

According to the British news agency Reuters, about one billion voters are participating in the six-week phased elections starting on April 19.

Officials like Surya Sen are dealing with misinformation spread online by election sales. His team oversees television and social media from an office in Bengaluru.

They are tied up with an outside agency where 30 people use keyword tracking software to get the desired information and monitor high-profile influencers 24 hours a day.

Surya Sen’s team also examines the online posts of political parties to detect everything from hate speech to fake news.

The Election Commission said in a statement that its officials across India have received “instructions to be proactive in curbing fake news on social media”.

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Surya Sen showed Reuters his messaging app WhatsApp, which has been flagged by an external agency for content that is based on hate speech or is likely to disturb public order or violate election laws.

Surya Sen did not disclose the identity of the external agency that also tracks the posts of social media influencers with large followings. These influencers play an important role in shaping the public narrative in India.

“We couldn’t do it ourselves, it had to be outsourced because we didn’t have the skills and resources,” Surya Sen said. It is a very difficult task.

Fake videos of Bollywood superstars also went viral a few days ago, which increased the risk of ‘deep fake’ in the election. In these videos, he is criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and asking people to vote for the opposition party Congress.

The first phase of elections in India began on April 19, while the second phase will be held on April 26, the third phase on May 7, the fourth phase on May 13, the fifth phase on May 20, the sixth phase on May 25 and the seventh phase on June 1.

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