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Don’t blindly believe this editorial: Fake news is better tackled by making news consumers ‘smarter’ readers

Fake newsmakers will keep on making fake news. It’s up to readers to decide whether they wish to be duped or not.

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Nov 28, 2019, 08.04 AM IST|Original: Nov 28, 2019, 08.04 AM IST
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Solutions to tackle the burgeoning industry of fake news have, so far, been sought from the supply side.
For those with a habit of reading fictionnovels, stories and the like — differentiating between what’s made up and what’s based on facts is instinctively easier than it is for those who deal only with ‘non-fiction’. True, most fiction presents itself as fiction. But there has been a fair share of fiction in nonfiction clothing, such as 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion', the fabricated anti-Semitic text first published in 1903 and passed off as the minutes of a meeting purportedly discussing a Jewish world takeover.

Solutions to tackle the burgeoning industry of fake news have, so far, been sought from the supply side. This week, a politician in Singapore corrected his Facebook post that had questioned the independence of state investment firms after the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act was invoked upon discovery that he had used ‘false and misleading’ information.

Such amicability is, however, rare in the world of fake news. Having fact-checkers is an option. But it may be more effective to instil news consumers with the skill of identifying fake from genuine. This involves reviving a culture of ‘smarter reading’ by triangulating information, cross-checking and treating all as fiction until proven otherwise. Fake newsmakers will keep on making fake news. It’s up to readers to decide whether they wish to be duped or not.
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