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Role and All-embracing affect of Media during Coronavirus Pandemic

Corona Conundrum

The outbreak of coronavirus has created great havoc all over the globe like causing tens of thousands of deaths, economic devastation, leading lockdowns in many countries, that has not only impacted the way we percieve our world but also impacted our lifestyles.

The pattern of its transmission and rate of contagion has shaked down the sense of agency but safety measures has been taken to put a stop to its mushrooming all over the planet also require social distancing, i.e to find solace in community that is something totally offbeat from innate behaviour of humans. The litany of unrest and suffering is proliferating gradually.

In all this media consumption is prepared to boom. Within this context:
  • what has been the role of different mass media on the life of individuals when it come to effective health communication for the adoption of preventive measures and curtailing spread of misinformation, strategies for dealing with social and physical distancing, reduction of prejudice, discrimination and inequalities which may overcome due to fake or misinformation?
     
  • Do media provide way for misinformation and how it effect the private domain of individuals?
     
  • How fake news impact the democracy in the world?
     
  • Does fake news put forward novel or acute problem on psychology of people?
  • if so, how?

The role of media and its wallopig affects

Role of media in today's world is of paramount importance, often described as the silent revolution in 21st century. It helps in shaping public opinion, raises important issues, and keep people acquainted with various information going all over the globe, its history in India can be traced back to 1940s when development communication started.

The world as we know has turned upside down after outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, started in December 2019 in china and become a worldwide problem, all this news has made people aware of situation and its devastating affects and the best thing happened across a variety of social media platforms is the number of professional influencers bellowed and urged people to take everything seriously about COVID 19 and follow all precautionary measures.

But a pressing problem in today's world with media is the spread of misinformation. The spread of misinformation on SARS-COV-2 that virus was engineered in the lab as a bioterrorism agent[1], in addition thousands of listing on Amazon promoting fake COVID-19 cures have been reported and the prize of some sanitizers and facemakers have increased by over 2000% . So it is very important that trusted media sources don't just ignore misinformation but attempt to counter it because this infodemic is undermining the democratic function of the press.

How media Serve to shape prospects and What are Affects of ifodemic during Coronavirus Pandemic?

Media has radically changed the way of communication with each other and all the news it is disseminating during this pandemic has both pros and cons, because information regarding safety measures and rate of contagion has helped people in identifying its catastrophic effects at the same time misinformation and fake news putting life at risk, prompting some unproven remedies that creat a hope in the people, that it will help them to cure themselves from coronavirus which directly restrain them to disclose information regarding their health, again it will lead virus to widespread.

The survey of 8,914 US adults conducted from march 10-16, found 80 percent of respondents noting they have been exposed to at least some false news about the virus like estimation of death tolls overstating the seriousness of the virus that millions of people could die from the virus and some respondents claimed that the media undersold the seriousness of the virus as they are equating the virus with flu and 10 percent reported about concocted stories and the false claims like virus made at the by time President Donald Trumph.[2]

The campaign group Avaaz discovered that about 40 percent of misinformation related to coronavirus found on Facebook like minority group are less prone to coronavirus and advices about bogus medical claims and also that 5G network mobile network can spread the disease which has been quashed by fact-checking organizations working with tech giant[3]. All these false claims prompted people to protect themselves from global pandemic has left almost 140,000 dead.

Between January and March an EU monitoring team found 80 examples of disinformation linked to pro-Kremlin media[4] outlets including claim that the virus was a biological weapon manufactured in US as part of its trade war against china. And information about remedies from virus liking sipping water, and for more dangerous one drinking bleach ,this lead to devastating affect in Iran where many people died by drinking methanol in the believe that it will protect them against COVID-19.

How fake news impact Democracy during Coronavirus Pandemic?

Now a day's media is easily accessible to every individual which encourage them to be politically active by sharing their views individually or by collective actions. It enhances citizens vigilance over state policies and government actions.

As fake news about virus that it is made at the time of President Donald Trumph and manufactured in the laboratory by US as against trade war with China[5] and China spread the virus as its initial plan was to use the virus as personal protection equipment but which eventually failed and suffered itself and earlier also named virus as “Wuhan virus”.

All this infomedic directly shape the outlook of people towards different nation states, which will create impact on elections, foreign relations, policies and programmes, e.t.c. because of this uninformed public unable to participate effectively in democracy. Basically it forms a viewpoint positive or negative depend on the information which directly impact on the democracy of the respective country.

Laws and regulations to curb fake news in India:
  • Section 66 of The Information technology Act 2000[6] which punishes a person for dishonestly doing any act referred in section 43, will be punished for 3 years or fine.
  • Civil or Criminal case for defamation is another resort for fake news.
  • Indian Penal Code has certain sections which prevent fake news[7].
  • Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act 2005[8] which deals about false warning about pandemic leading to panic among people.
  • Section 3 of the Epidemic Disease Act 1897[9] which deals with penalty for a person disobeying any regulation under this act deemed to have committed offence under section 188 of IPC.
  • Also Cyber Crime Portal of the ministry of Home Affairs states guidelines how Media groups should function during the COVID-19 pandemic[10] and also listed some provisions under which action can be taken against anyone who violates the law.
     
Conclusion
Media has wide influence over people during coronavirus pandemic, so all information should be more transparent and veracious in line with Right to Information laws and policies as information[11] from official sources is of paramount importance in this crisis. Because of technology we are inundated with copious of information to which we are more likely to share because we don't have that much to separate facts from falsities. A message can go viral before any serious truth can be filtered out which can lead hazardous affects.

Unreliable and fake news regarding COVID-19 spreading around the globe to such an extent that it is causing lethal affect on the lives of people as the case of Iran where many people died by drinking methanol just because it was sighted in the news that drinking methanol will protect them from coronavirus[12]. All the news disseminated by media has a great impact on the psychology of individuals so it should be shared with due care because single falsehood that gain attention can negate the significance of true facts.

So platform providers to different media group should take their legal responsibility by mitigating any problem that may arise with their respective platforms, should create transparency and try to curb passing off of fake news by taking more stringent actions, and to prevent its consequences it should be studied from multifaceted perspective like the source of its origin, reasons which gave it rise, laws which curb such acts should be identified and the offender should be punished immediately. Laws that are available should be made more stringent so it can curtail widespread of fake news. Law enforcement agencies should take action against fake news generators though some state policies made arrests but there is wider need to look into law to address fake news directly.

End-Notes:
  1. http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics /2020/4/15/21222458/study-people-coronavirus-fake-news
  2. Id.
  3. http://mediawatchjournal.in/fake-news-and-social-media-indian-perspective/
  4. Id
  5. Id
  6. Right to Information Act 2000
  7. Indian Penal Code
  8. Disaster Management Act 2005
  9. Epidemic Disease Act 1897
  10. http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/fighting-fake-news-during-covid-19/article31233348.ece
  11. http://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1061592
  12. Id
Written By: Shalini Pastor

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