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Police get a guide to detect fake news

Topics Covered: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

Police get a guide to detect fake news

What to study?

For Prelims: Key guidelines in the manual.

For Mains: significance and the need for this manual.

Context: The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), a think-tank under the Union Home Ministry has published guidelines to aid law enforcement agencies to identify fake news and videos.

Why these guidelines were necessary?

Digital news has led to increased incidence of fake news or yellow journalism.

Fake news is published with the intent to damage an agency, entity or a person and gain financially or politically and it often uses sensationalist, dishonest or outright fabricated headlines to increase readership.

In the wake of the pandemic, fake news and videos have spread panic, increased hatred and communal violence. Miscreants have used fake URLs to mislead people who wanted to donate to PM-CARES fund.

Overview of the guidelines:

Spotting fake news:

  1. The guideline mentions several indicative signs that officials must look for to identify possible fake news.
  2. The officers should read beyond “outrageous” headlines designed to attract clicks and read the whole article.
  3. A possible case of fake news could be when headlines, visuals or captions do not support the content or when genuine contents or sources are impersonated with false or made-up sources.
  4. A search on the author of the article would also enable insights into the veracity of the news.
  5. The investigating officer must stay alert to clues such as language since such websites and links usually have spelling mistakes.

Cross-checking:

  1. The officials should refer to trusted news sources to verify whether the story is being reported elsewhere.
  2. When a story is reported in multiple places, it is more likely to be true.
  3. The manual also gives an indicative list of websites that could be accessed for fact-checking.
  4. The guidelines ask police and other investigating agencies to use open domain tools for collecting more information on fake videos.
  5. BPRD has cautioned that the Investigating officer may consider the case sensitivity before resorting to these tools since there is the risk of data leakage that may influence or mislead an investigation.

Sources: the Hindu.