The necessity of Fact-Checking initiative in Bangladesh

14 April, 2017 09:04 AM Media School

Zahed Arman

Information is power whether it is a truth, false, or fabricated. Solid information gives the audiences right direction in life. False and fabricated information has a bad impact on society. Even fake information makes a ground to attack a country. We are living in such a digital world where we are surrounded by myriads of information. Sadly, there is a lot of false, fabricated, and untrue information circulating on the internet. Some fabricated information is getting viral on the social networking sites, and people are believing that information lacking proper media literacy. In such a situation, what do we do? We should uncover what is true, and what isn’t. This is what fact-checking organizations do.

Journalists are truth-seekers. Their main duty is to find facts, interpret the importance of facts, and then share that information with the public. We know that journalists have to work with the pressure of a deadline. Thus, most of the time, it’s not possible for him to check the truth in a proper way. A journalist might work as an ideological state apparatus of a party or country. Sometimes people fabricated journalists’ authentic report by digital reproduction. Thus, audiences got confused what is truth and what is not.

In the age of digital reproduction, anyone can reproduce news by using information and communication technology tools. Social networking sites and blogs offer some opportunities that anyone can manipulate information and can disseminate that information to the public. Thus, it is very difficult to find out authentic news on the social media. Lack of media literacy, most of the public of the world cannot identify fake news. People need to check facts of that information and ask fact-checking organizations for authentic news. Thus, fact-checking organizations are getting popularity from west to east.

According to the Duke Reporters' Lab (2017), there are 114 fact-checking teams in 44 countries until February 28, 2017. Fact-checking organizations are popular in the U.S. and Europe. In the U.S., there are 43 fact-checking organizations who are working independently. Most of the organizations are checking facts of the public speeches of politicians. In Europe. Most of the fact-checking organizations are not affiliated with media outlets. These projects are often taken by different non-governmental organizations, universities or research centers. In the South Asia, only India has two fact-checking initiatives. The Duke Reporters’ Lab did not find and fact-checking initiative in Bangladesh.

The International Fact-Checking Network at The Poynter Institute has declared April 2 as International Fact-Checking Day. Alexios Mantzarlis, director of the International Fact-Checking Network at The Poynter Institute, said, “International Fact-Checking Day is not a single event but a rallying cry for more facts — and fact-checking — in politics, journalism and everyday life.” Angie Drobnic Holan, editor of the Politifact explains the need for an International Fact-checking Day and how people can stand up for facts. She said, “With all the phony headlines and hoaxes floating around the Internet, it can feel like April Fool’s any day of the year. We’re debunking more false claims than ever. It’s a sad trend that people will maliciously invent fictitious stories and then pass them off as real, hoping for clicks.” The day is celebrating first time throughout the world.

On the International Fact-checking day, BDFactCheck, a nonpartisan and non-profitable organization is going to start fact-checking initiatives in Bangladesh first time. Their aim is to reduce the level of deception and confusion in Bangladesh by checking facts of public figures, different organizations/institutions, media outlets and social media posts. According to the organization’s Facebook Page, the main goals of the organization are to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship and to increase public knowledge and understanding. BDFactCheck is celebrating the International Fact-Checking Day with some activities like by warning people about fact news, teaching people about media literacy, publishing website, etc.

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