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The misinformation campaign
Publication Date : 19-03-2013
Recent media reports in Bangladesh have shown point by point, proof by proof, how doctored content, photographs and captions are being used to spread propaganda against the war crimes trial and incite fanaticism. Solid proof of a disinformation campaign goes back to the news of attacks on Rohingyas last year which were amplified and fed to the people of Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar, causing panic, and continues into the instigation of the attacks in Ramu in September. More recently, a deliberate and massive campaign is on, misusing even foreign photos and news to create an impression of widespread support for the war criminals and against the Shahbagh and people’s movement against those under trial or who have been convicted, demanding their maximum punishment. Attempts have been made to malign the latter movement by depicting it as an anti-Islamic one and the government as a failing one, such as through the Vitamin A capsule distribution campaign.
The Internet and social media have been a worldwide platform for the people to have their voices heard, whether it is through the posting of links to professional media reports or one’s own citizen journalism and weblogs. The onus of truth lies on the senders but the responsibility of verifying credibility also lies with the receivers of the messages.
And, while vested quarters continue with their disinformation campaign, the government cannot sit idle either. It must equip itself to handle cyber crime, which has become a national security issue. Blocking access to the Internet is not a solution as has been proved time and again, but with the aid of experts of technology in general and online media in particular, ways must be found to counter threats to national security from the world wide web and to bring to book the perpetrators. The people, too, especially users of online and social media, must be wary of information gained online, and do their best to determine the credibility of sources and their information.