• Thursday, May 19, 2022

INDIA

BBC launches disinformation unit in India

People outside the main entrance to the BBC’s Broadcasting House building in central London.

By: Pramod Thomas

BBC News has launched a new ‘disinformation unit’ in India for uncovering, analysing and reporting the spread of fake news. A team of dedicated journalists will focus on highlighting false information, debunking viral social media content and looking into the way and reason for the spread under the new initiative.

They will also give the readers useful tips on how to identify fake news and prevent it from spreading more, a statement said.

The audience can also involve by reporting on any fake news they think needs to be investigated and can alert the disinformation unit.

The unit in India is an extension of the BBC’s commitment to combat misinformation and is part of the BBC global disinformation unit which features experienced journalists based in Africa and the UK.

Rebecca Skippage, editor of BBC Disinformation, said, “Disinformation is a global issue that disregards boundaries of languages, platforms, cultures and age-groups. Unchecked news can affect health, society and democracy. This new team of dedicated journalists will allow us to shine a light on misleading information and help people decide for themselves what to believe and what to mistrust.”

A new scheme named BBC Young Reporter India has also rolled out media awareness workshops in schools across India to train young people to think critically about the media they consume, understand the facts from fake and think before sharing potentially misleading and harmful information. The workshops are being delivered in partnership with teams from Internews and DataLeads.

The initiative will train 7,000 students across 100 schools in the country by year-end. Over 5,000 people have already attended the workshops in over 45 Indian cities.

Marie Helly, Head of BBC Beyond Fake News said, “The pandemic has shown the appalling damage that misinformation can cause. Fake cures, anti-vax messaging and conspiracy theories have been widely shared, often by people thinking they are doing the right thing as neighbours and friends. It is imperative that the next generation become responsible citizens who understand the difference between fact and fake and can think critically about the media they consume.

“Trust, accuracy and impartiality are at the heart of the BBC. I am delighted by the quality of the students and trainers who are working together with the BBC to counter the dangers of misinformation here in India.”

Abhilasha S, principal, SRS English Medium School in Brahmavara in Karnataka, said, “The workshop actually helped the students to navigate and take right direction in the digital world. It has been a relevant training session to learn the skill of identifying the authenticity of the news which are at the fingertips of the students in the changed scenario.”

Meenakshi Duarah, the headmistress of Delhi Public School in Nazira in Assam, said: “The BBC Young Reporter workshop has been immensely enlightening and enriching for the students. The webinar was impactful enough to generate awareness amongst the students to be discerning users of social media. The students were exposed to a lot of significant things to be kept in mind while using social media.

“Apart from the students, the teachers who attended the webinar also found it beneficial for the students. The trainer was very well-informed.”

Krishna Sodhi, principal of New Lahoria Vidya Mandir School in Hisar, Haryana, said, “I liked the fact that the presenter showed real examples and addressed all the sections intently. The workshop was very beneficial for the students. I’m sure that it is going to help the students to spot fake news and prohibit them from sharing it any further.”

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