The National Parliament elections were held recently. Various activities were started around this election and alliances were formed. Along with all this, rumors started spreading at a massive scale, which is still going on, and maybe or will continue in the future. Rumors and misinformation have increased in the country, everyone thinks that it will increase. Politics and rumors have been singled out by many. There is no need for rumors or lies if the party has public support. But using the weapon of rumor without attracting people does not pay off well and may not in the future. It would not be wrong to call the rumor a new form of terrorism. Anti-rumor laws should be made more effective. However, care must be taken to ensure that the law is not misused. However, the people have made their decision in the last election to move forward or rumor.
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We also need to fact-check before believing or promoting anything. The politics of rumors and lies push the party back, if you do politics with these things, you won’t be able to make the smart formula of repairing the state very far. In the age of digital Bangladesh, mobile is in everyone’s hands. Internet at home. From cities to remote villages, people are easily in touch with the world. Everyone is instantly getting what is happening around them, and what is being heard through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media. 84 percent of internet users in Bangladesh have a Facebook account. Currently, the number of Facebook users in the country is about five to six billion and the number of viewers on YouTube is more than 3 crores.
Someone is making money using this opportunity for good. Some people are also taking advantage of it. “Hacker circles” have developed in various places. Social media is now full of rumors and lies. In particular, slander against the government or Awami League is spread every day. The names of many important people, institutions, and celebrities of the state including the Prime Minister, and the Chief Justice are involved in these rumors. Some rumors involve sensitive institutions like the armed forces. Thousands of content are released every day with false information and millions of people are watching it. Many believe it! Because this news has no credibility without mainstream media, it is unknown to many.
Moreover, billions of people in remote areas can’t verify the truth or falsity of that information and taking this opportunity is a reactionary cycle. The Cyber and Special Crime Department of the Intelligence Department says that those who want to destabilize the country mainly do such things. Therefore, the Cyber and Special Crime Department has advised not to believe these reports. They advised all not to react after hearing any news, but to check whether the incident was true or not. A study revealed that rumor-mongering has been chosen as a career by a group of people. For this, however, it is said that they get both sides of the money. One powerful opposition party, two online platforms. It is happening globally. Bangladesh’s national elections are less than a year away. It is now the way to make business money for global and domestic rumor-mongers. The buyers who go to rent them are also interested and enthusiastic.
What is good for the country or the hidden branding of the opponent? One group does country-by-country election work as a temporary occupation. A consortium of journalists from 30 media outlets around the world were informed about the work by searching. Three investigative journalists pretended to be customers and the detailed information came out. Their main work is to collect information about the opponent through hacking, analysis, slander against the candidate, spread rumors, slander, and spread false information on social media to create public opinion in favor of their candidate. So far, this group is claimed to have influenced more than 30 elections in different countries. All these activities are led by some persons using pseudonyms. The undercover individuals told reporters that they worked for various countries’ intelligence agencies, political campaigns, and private companies seeking to sway public opinion. They have served various clients in Africa, South and Central America, the USA, and Europe.
The team maintains thousands of fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Telegram, WhatsApp, Gmail, Instagram, and YouTube using the sophisticated software package Advanced Impact Media Solutions. They even have an account on Amazon, the global online shopping platform. This is how Gmail, Telegram, and other online communication accounts are hacked and information is obtained. Systematically arranges news coverage in credible media. Later arrange to spread them online. Tactics also involve disrupting an adversary’s campaign or carrying out subversive activities. They also have many examples of blackmailing politicians to upset their families. In other words, the goal is to upset the mind.
Another election was held earlier this year. Where the Awami League has the people’s mandate to rule the continuity. Because a continuous government system was very much needed for development. Awami League has won a fair election. To speed up the journey of Sheikh Hasina’s Smart Bangladesh, we must play a role in preventing rumors and misinformation. There are some online-focused activities and more innovative and creative things to think about. There is no need to talk about the development and achievement of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The people of the country and the world are surprised to know what she has done. The world media has been expressing its opinion day and night that Bangabandhu’s democratic policy was right, and Sheikh Hasina’s development thinking was extraordinary. Sheikh Hasina’s reputation is worldwide. She is fighting numerous problems including corruption, greediness, and fundamentalism.
So creative initiatives are needed to prevent rumors about her achievements. Youth should be openly involved in this initiative of decentralization. Sociologists will consider what are the socio-cultural causes of rumors. But there is a clear politics behind it and this politics is being done by a group of identified people, who do not want the country to move forward, to return to the practice of a healthy culture in the society. In this age of globalization, people are moving forward and there is no chance for the people of our country to be left behind. Rumors, though different in nature, were already widespread. Rumors were practiced in every corner of the society. However, after the advent of social media like Facebook, it seems that its level of horror has exceeded.
Due to rumors, houses have been set on fire several times and vandalized. Riots go on in different places. How a mother was beaten to death by a group of madmen for promoting child abduction. At various times, many people have been embarrassed by the status made in the name of insulting religion on Facebook. The highly educated people of the society also participated in those rumors. We see university teachers, journalists, and Facebook celebrities who are known to us as conscious and awake people, they also participate in the drama of these rumors. Criticism and lies are never the same. Criticism of any person or government can be done, but it should be done with decency by expressing your opinion.
Freedom to do as you please without interfering with the rights of others does not block or attack the avenues of expression in others. However, we see such people taking part in the propaganda of these rumors, who themselves often work and write about the freedom of expression. Gives a speech or preaches. But when another person’s actions do not match their views, they can be seen to support a false position centered on that point. Modern technology is helping to spread new rumors. Rumors spread quickly. Many are making up lies and deliberately spreading falsehoods. These deliberate falsehoods, falsehoods, and stories are now being used on social media and even mass media instead of being spread to the public. The saddest thing is that a class of so-called educated people are using these things and spreading them in various ways to convince others.
A class is also using religious institutions to spread this false information, stories, or fake videos. During the liberation war in this country, many such myths and lies were spread. Its continuation is still going on. These lies are being spread using social media at regular intervals. It tried to embarrass the current Awami League government. These lies are for people to get angry and lose confidence. Spreading falsehoods for these organized nefarious purposes is a rumor. There are various interpretations of the rumor. Sociologists have also made appropriate definitions. Rumors are motivated and spread with malicious intent, rumors are spread to slander a party or defame or harm someone or a group. Spreading false and incorrect information or matter to a class and making it believe that what is spread has happened or will happen; however, it is all wrong and false.
Rumors are spread to mislead people or create fear among the public. Some capitalize on uncertainty and feed on rumor tablets. According to many experts, rumors are a subset of propaganda. Some opposition parties in our country have been using this subset as a political weapon. More or less we all know-understand and can guess where the source of political rumors is or how these are created and spread. Several political workers regularly read these lies and rumors, as if this is their job. With over-dependence on social media, people’s lives have become trapped in likes, comments, and shares. Green and blue light are present throughout most of the life span. Everyone between the ages of eight and eighty is inevitably entering the realm of limitless addiction to apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Imo, and TikTok. The whole world is losing its appetite for the virtual world. To tell the truth, we all are working as players of this social media today.
Rumors are spread by creating a completely new fake video using Deep Fake technology, using present-day words in old videos, and using artificial intelligence to add an artificial voice to a person’s face. Besides, rumors are spread by spreading fake information as truth by changing the context of the news by avoiding important information. Rumors are sometimes propagated through mistranslation and misrepresentation of the statements of reputed experts. Rumors are also propagated by using fictitious quotes from the mainstream media, twisting the facts, misrepresenting research results using discredited media or bogus news, and invalid comparisons. To help the public distinguish between credible information and rumors, schools, colleges, and organizations can adopt programs to teach media literacy that will teach them critical thinking skills and fact-checking techniques.
Responsible use of social media in the light of patriotism, and religious and moral education can help prevent the spread of false information through these platforms. Before sharing with others, check with reality and always verify its credible sources through fact-checking and share responsibly. Besides, it should be verified whether any person, institution, or group has an interest in it. Be careful about sharing unverified or sensational content on various mediums including online platforms. Rumor spreading in general is very unethical and gross. It violates the principles of honesty, fairness, and compassion. In a society that values ethical and responsible communication, spreading rumors goes against the principles of a responsible citizen. Rumors can sometimes get out of control and lead to unintended consequences, inciting hostility, escalating conflict, and in some cases provoking violence. After all, spreading false information can lead to legal consequences.
In such videos, it is said that US sanctions are coming soon on the newly formed Awami League government or Bangladesh. Sometimes these types of videos talk about visa bans, sometimes economic sanctions. The videos use the names of the United States and its Western allies. There are many fact-checking organizations. However, the role of independent fact-checkers is not seen here. Not a single reputable fact-checker or fact-checking organization has done anything about these misleading YouTube videos. Although foreign media or organizations are capable of fact-checking mistakes or fact-checking about Bangladesh, no fact-checking organization in the country has come forward to fact-check the misleading information that has thousands of views on YouTube.
State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Mohammad Ali Arafat commented that it is possible to prevent the disinformation that is carried out using information technology. He said this in response to a question in the 12th National Parliament. He mentioned, “Even though the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has no direct authority to take legal action against those who spread misleading information on social media abroad, the Ministry is working on it.” There is an opportunity to take action under the existing laws of the country if there is any misinformation or subversive activity against the country while sitting inside the country.
To prevent rumors, if any information published on social media and other online portals is confirmed to be a rumor through the public relations officer of the concerned ministry, measures have been taken to disseminate it in all media by issuing an immediate information statement with real information. At the same time, TVCs, spots, and fillers are regularly aired on Bangladesh television to spread anti-national false information, misleading propaganda, and rumors, both at home and abroad. Even in 2014 and 2018, violence was done in the country by spreading rumors. However, later the aggressors and the besiegers retreated. Thousands of innocent people were burnt. Rumors were spread that there was no money in the bank, and the leaders and activists of a party propagated them through various media.
Attempts to embarrass the government or the Awami League through rumors have been going on for the past few years, bypassing the normal process of politics in Bangladesh. There will be parties and opposition in politics, politics for the welfare of the people. Policy differences are the hallmark of politics, but aside from the mentality of calling good, reliance on evil rumors is both laughable and detrimental to the country. If anything, rumors are being spread through various channels without logical criticism. Even in this case, religion is not being left out, misusing religion to mislead people has to come out.